Bring It On!

The Dreaded Immigration Issue

May 1st, 2007 | by Matthew OKeefe |

In years gone by the nation that we call home had no immigration policy and it worked. Right there in the harbor of New York City was the grand lady asking for and welcoming the many that needed a new start in a land that could boast of endless possibilities if you just came to our shores. All of the boats from many nations in Europe and Asia came and our nation survived it because we needed the people to progress the American Experiment.

There is an argument against amnesty and in parts I can somehow understand it but it has faults as well. The media portrays this issue as strictly a Mexican immigrant problem and yes that is a serious problem for the West Coast of the country. And yet the West Coast is a thriving economy given the media built hype of an immigration problem. In the North East of our nation they blame it on European and Asian and South America immigrants and yet we still have a thriving economy. In the South East of our nation they blame it on Central America immigrants and yet there is one hell of a growing economy there as well.

One of the questions that come to the front of my mind is if the illegal immigrants have a legitimate gripe? They do in fact contribute to the success of the American economy no matter how many ways you try to express that their presence is not welcomed. I’m not advocating illegal immigration but when your refrigerator is filled with food and your local economy is good then what is the problem.

Over at the Los Angeles Times they had this to say on today’s May Day demonstration across our nation…

Local marchers join tens of thousands nationwide
By Times Staff Writers
5:21 PM PDT, May 1, 2007

Tens of thousands of advocates for immigrant rights took to the streets in Los Angeles and the rest of the nation today, hoping that passion would offset the smaller turnout from last year’s demonstrations.

As they did last year, demonstrators waved U.S. flags and declared their desire to flex economic muscles despite their sharply lower numbers at a time when immigration issues continue on the Washington agenda.

Along with marches in California, demonstrations were reported in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Phoenix as protesters demanded a path for citizenship for an estimated 12 million to 13 million undocumented workers as well as other changes being negotiated within a Democrat-controlled Congress.

In Los Angeles, a morning demonstration started on Olympic Boulevard at Broadway with a handful of protesters, but by midday at City Hall the crowd had grown to more than 25,000 people shouting “Si, se puede!” or “Yes, it can be done!” the Latino rallying cry for political power.

“We have to show Congress that we’re good people,” said Blanca Duenas, who joined the crowd with her husband Jose. “We’re here and we’re not leaving.” – LA Times

America is the land of opportunity and most people that live here never get it. The great pizza place down the street owned by a Greek or Italian immigrant is taken for granted. Dropping in to the local gas station or convenience store that is owned by a family from India, Pakistan, Turkey, Korea or England rubs people wrong because we as a people have forgotten what the American dream is really all about. Why do we judge immigrants to our shores badly because they see what our way of life can be financially for their families? We are the ones that don’t get it!

We pay tuition, foreign citizens pay tuition for higher education that creates great minds that amaze the world and in turn they take our higher education system to the next level that is America. Our nation has a huge population of foreign born citizens that come to the birthplace of higher education and creative thought and some go home and some choose to stay either legally or illegally. Our nation benefits with the opening of minds for humanity.

Immigration is an American gift. Some people like to point to the weak border and so called “Wet Backs” and yet do not consider or choose to ignore the gift of our education system and the many from many lands far and wide that contribute to our society at levels that many of us take for granted. Visit an emergency room in any city and there is an attending physician that is from somewhere else.

Immigrants get what America has to offer. We have just forgotten what the dream is truly about.

Cross posted at Papamoka

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  1. 20 Responses to “The Dreaded Immigration Issue”

  2. By Lazy Iguana on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    Remember the story everyone read in school called “The Monkey’s Paw”? Be careful what you wish for?

    So lets say the illegals are made instant citizens. What will this do?

    Well, they might start to demand benefits that American workers expect. You know, minimum wage and stuff. Days off. Sick leave. And so on.

    So what will happen? You think business wants to pay them more? Hell no! So more illegals will sneak in and take the jobs from the former illegals.

    In a way, it is possible that instant legalization will solve the illegal problem.

    I still think the key to this issue is to ignore the illegals and go after those creating the conditions that brings them in. EMPLOYERS WHO HIRE THEM! You know if your staff is illegal, because they never complain about not getting paid overtime, they are willing to work for less than the federal minimum wage, they have no social security numbers, and so on.

    End the illegal employers and illegal immigration will solve itself. If a Wal-Mart gets raided and illegals are found working there, toss the MANAGERS OF THE STORE in jail. Fine the company a lot of money for each illegal worker found there. $100,000 per illegal worker is a good level to start at. If corporate human resources know about illegals working in a store, toss them in jail too. Keep going up the chain to the CEO if you can.

    If this becomes policy, you will see a lot less illegal immigration, because there will no jobs for illegal workers.

    But we can not do this! Why, rich people may be held accountable here! Much better to go after the millions of illegals - which are harder and more expensive to track down than some schmuck in a suit.

  3. By Ron on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    You take illegal immigration out of this country and watch what happens to your grocery bill. It’s a disgusting thing we are doing-taking advantage of poor Mexicans, but we are hooked on foreign hands to work in our fields.

  4. By tos on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    Are you talking about America’s ecomomy? And here all I hear is how bad this economy is,I guess it depends on which issue we are talking about. What about all those poor people working in MacDonalds that the “immigrants” are taking away.I am sure there are Americans that need those jobs.
    You know why they are carrying US Flags,because last year they got backlash from all the Mexican flags they were carrying and especially the upside down American Flag. They were told to carry US Flags of course they were being televised. Gee I wonder what flag is hanging from their rearview mirrors.
    What we will pay in groceries we will save in taxes.They don’t pay taxes for their kids to go to school,would we like it if all of us didn’t have to pay those school taxes?
    If we were so caring we should not only be going after Exxon-Mobil but Dole,Heinz,Chiquita and the rest of the big corporations that abuse the “Illegal” immigrants.
    The democrats have control of the house and senate,why aren’t they spending weeks upon weeks passing a bill for them,but they are spending all their time on Iraq spending bills? I know why,do you?

  5. By BYSHOP on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    “The democrats have control of the house and senate,why aren’t they spending weeks upon weeks passing a bill for them,but they are spending all their time on Iraq spending bills? I know why,do you?”

    Is it because GW etal. lied us into a war with and subsequent occupation of a country halfway acrossed the world draining the resources and attention needed to maintain and secure our own country?

  6. By tos on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    “Is it because GW etal. lied us into a war with and subsequent occupation of a country halfway acrossed the world draining the resources and attention needed to maintain and secure our own country? ”

    Why didn’t the Iraq War distract them form all the other issues they’ve been going after since they had control of congress but not immigration? I guess you didn’t hear what Nancy Pelosi said about the immigration bill.She wants at least 70 republicans signing on to it because only 4 did to make it a bipartisan bill so the democrats don’t get hammered for it during the ‘08 elections.
    They have enough votes now to get it passed,what are they waiting for?

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/05/01/immigration.bill/

    I guess it’s all about them.

  7. By Ron on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    Neither party will move on immigration for the reason I stated above. They are crucial to the ag industry. Tos, you’re not thinking about the working poor who often don’t pay taxes. They will be hit and hard by a hig grocery bill.

  8. By ken grandlund on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    Sorry Mat, but several things in this post stand out as not quite accurate to me.

    First, the economy is great only for a small minority of folks. Most probably aren’t starving, but their income isn’t keeping up with the costs of food, fuel, and mortgages, let alone student loans. The economy is great for corporations and investors, but for the average jan and jon doe, their dollar buys less than it did in decades past.

    Second, illegal Mexican immigrants are all over this country, not just on the west coast. Just look at the recent ICE (show) raids in the midwest and south- many of those rounded up we Mexican nationals. The agrarian small towns throughout the country (and the corporate farms as well) are where a lot of these folks find work, and it is there they go. That’s not just a small section of the country. Similarly, Asians, Africans, and other immigrants (legal or illegal) spread around the country too. No region has a hold on a certain ethnic immigrant group.

    Third- the marchers in San Diego yesterday carried at least as many Mexican flags as they did US flags in their march- not exactly a show of wanting to embrace your new nation of choice- rather a show of support for the nation you left. Fine by me on a personal level, but that’s not exactly showing a desire for assimilation.

    Fourth- In California, illegal immigrants can get free or lower cost higher education than can legal state residents. This is not only unfair, it means that more US kids aren’t getting a chance at higher education due to limited class space.

    I’m not against immigration. I am against ILLEGAL immigration. And there is a big difference.

    In the early late 1800’s and early 1900’s, immigration quota’s became the norm and they exist on the books today. While based more on racial bias, the quota system was one attempt to add order to the system of immigration. It’s not a fair way at all but at least it seeks to limit a storming of the borders.

    As for the idea that reducing illegal immigration would result in higher food costs- I don’t buy that either. For mass corporate farms, food costs can still remain low provided the government gets into the whole health care-retirement business. But even if they don’t for some time, higher mechanization of harvesting and planting simply means fewer workers are needed. Profits can remain fairly stable for food producers and if the begin to gouge the consumers, legislation can begin. hell, they are already subsidized anyhow…

    Amnesty is a bad idea. It only sends a message for others to come and break the laws. We need to enforce the laws against employers first and foremost. Then we need to get tougher on securing the border from easy crossing. Then we need to deal with those here illegally.

    Finally, America is not the harbor for all the world’s dreamers. At least it shouldn’t be. We need to spend more time with our State Dept. helping other countries create and maintain their own national “dream” cultures. Why shouldn’t there be a “Mexican Dream” or a “Peruvian Dream” or an Ethiopian Dream” that those native people’s could strive for? There should be, and there could be if our government wasn’t so self-centered in it’s actions and policies.

    My stance on ILLEGAL immigration may not make me popular here, but I don’t spend my days and nights trying to be all PC about things that when looked in a rational light at make common sense (to me at least).

  9. By tos on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    There should be, and there could be if our government wasn’t so self-centered in it’s actions and policies.

    So what’s the difference Ken if we pay for them here or pay for them there? Mexico has oil,why can’t they sell us more at better prices to help their own economy. Or do they not want to do anything that benefits the US?

  10. By ken grandlund on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    I think you misunderstood me tos- I don’t mean that we should pay other countries to develop their own national dreams, only that we need to help them with problems like corruption (as if we have any standing on that), share technologies that increase their productivity and food, share methods for making water and food safer, etc.

    It’s not that they come here because they hate their homelands, only that their homelands can’t provide for them (or won’t.)

  11. By tos on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    Isn’t that the job of the UN? Just like the corruption of Africa with aid we sent there and let’s not forget Arafat. What do we do micro manage them? I give to charities and I would hope they are doing the right thing with my donations.

  12. By Ron on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    “As for the idea that reducing illegal immigration would result in higher food costs- I don’t buy that either. For mass corporate farms, food costs can still remain low provided the government gets into the whole health care-retirement business. But even if they don’t for some time, higher mechanization of harvesting and planting simply means fewer workers are needed.”

    Ken, there are many crops that machines simply cannot pick or harvest. And those farms are experiencing a shortage of labor. Costs will go up if the farms cannot get as much of their product to market.

  13. By ken grandlund on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    the UN is really little more than a sounding board for most nations, with a few well run agencies that try to alleviate hunger and provide medical care. They do little to improve infrastructure. That would be the world bank, but it is too politicized to be effective, and many nations are too corrupt to capitalize on WB assistance. The UN also acts as a watchdog, but one that is too old to do more than bark.

    I’m thinking more about leading by example, but again, our current example isn’t the model I’d use.

    But let’s be clear- we can’t demonize those who seek a better life without trying to do something about the conditions they flee from.

    Doing that, in conjunction with our own enforced laws, would make a big difference. Sadly, our foreign policy is steeped in religious and corporate mentalities (abstinence programs, resource exploitation, class systems based of theological ‘order’ of things and acceptance) that prevent us from doing the right things.

    No- we can’t save the world or corrupt governments from themselves. But we could be doing a hell of a lot more to reduce illegal immigration, level the field, and help create conditions abroad that would keep people at home.

  14. By ken grandlund on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    Agreed Ron- but their lack of labor isn’t due to wages being too high, rather to their being too profit driven and refusing to pay a fair wage. If you pay American citizens or legal immigrants a fair wage, there would be no labor shortage. And if you enforced the laws already on the books there would be plenty of people lining up to fill those jobs.

    Of course, another problem is the shift in American thinking required. We have become elitists about work, thinking that manual toil isn’t good enough for us. It is good enough, and it’s better than lying your way to the top of some corporate chain. Further, you could hire the youth, instill some sense of community, work ethic, and pride that could help a host of other problems we face today.

  15. By Ron on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    The lack of labor is due to not enough people to do that work. There is no Tom Joad anymore-no one is going to move to farm country to pick crops at minimum wage and even if those Americans(or even enough immigrants!) existed, food prices would then go through the roof due to the absurd labor costs.

    We are stuck with illegal immigrants. The truth is, we need them. I personally admire their ability to toil for shit wages. We should be thanking them profusely, not arresting them.

  16. By ken grandlund on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    Well, like I said, I’m not taking a popular stance here on this particular issue. And frankly, there are plenty of people to do the work- just not with the right attitude or frame of mind. How many millions are on unemployment? How many have left the work force altogether?

    And did you miss the part when I said “paid a fair wage”? I’m still not buying the “absurd food costs” either. If costs for food got too high, people wouldn’t buy all the variety- Choice may falter, but overall prices wouldn’t go too high. Companies still want thier profits and some are better than none. Hell, food costs more now because of fuel prices, but people are still eating and driving, right?

    Finally, we may well be stuck with immigrants, which I have no problem with at all. But why do we have to be stuck with ILLEGAL immigrants? That’s about as cop out of an answer as there could be. Should we be “stuck” with polluted air and water too? We have plenty of that. Should we be “stuck” with oil at all costs? “Stuck” with the war in Iraq?

    When we throw up our hands and say “oh well, can’t change that problem” we might as well quit talking to each other and hide in our own seclusion. Sorry- I’m not playing that way.

    I admire their perseverance too, but would admire it much more if they used it to better their own countries’ corruption instead of sneaking into America.

  17. By Ron on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    “And frankly, there are plenty of people to do the work- just not with the right attitude or frame of mind. How many millions are on unemployment? How many have left the work force altogether?”

    I give up, Ken. You won’t accept any premises but your own, so I can tell you all day that the minimum wage would be totally destructive to the prices of many foods and that there aren’t even enough Mexicans to work for nearly nothing let alone Americans who will work like a dog for that same nothing, and you will continue to insist that the solution is that unemployed Americans should change their attitude about hard labor and migrate to farm country for six dollars an hour with no retirement or healthcare.

    This problem has no easy fix. This is a marriage of convenience between poor Mexicans and American stomachs. We keep them in illegal status so we can continue to pay them dog wages. And we all benefit from it.

    I will agree with this-that nothing short of government takeover of the farm industry, the healthcare system and pension management is going to make this an equitable solution for everyone. Oh, and I think you would then have to assign and transport the unemployed to hit the crops, and jail them for noncompliance using your ideas. Until you can get more people to sign up for that reality, we are going to live in the present one.

    “I admire their perseverance too, but would admire it much more if they used it to better their own countries’ corruption instead of sneaking into America.”

    And I would like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

    “When we throw up our hands and say “oh well, can’t change that problem” we might as well quit talking to each other and hide in our own seclusion. Sorry- I’m not playing that way.”

    What are you concerned about, Mexicans being exploited, or that a bunch of wetbacks are taking over towns and don’t say hello the same way you do?

    I agree with you and respect your opinions most of the time Ken, but really, this is a strange position for you to take and at odds with most of your reality-based posting. The immigration problem is analogous to our energy problem. We don’t have enough of our own to meet demand.

  18. By ken grandlund on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    Well Ron, perhaps you could direct me to some verifiable information that shows that (a) food prices would rise were it not for illegal immigration, (b) that illegal immigration is the only way to get food from the farm to the table in a cost efficient manner, and (c) that American’s won’t do farm work anymore except for the benefit of extremely high wages. Without the facts, this is just a he said/he said kind of conversation. Convert me- I’m willing to change my thoughts, but not on a whim or because someone might call me a xenophobe. I can show evidence fot the assertions I made in my initial comment to this post. And like the energy question, food labor costs are not the only aspect of illegal immigration that are problematic. Just part of the bigger picture.

    And for the record, I’ve spent many years working side by side with both legal and illegal immigrants. I’ve had many friends who are both legal and illegal immigrants. I speak pretty good spanish and have little trouble with communication. I have even worked at a Spanish language media company. This isn’t about any sort of racist attitude on my part at all. It’s not about me not wanting ’strangers’ in town. It’s about a system that is totally out of control and being ignored by everyone, save for the hyperbole.

  19. By Ron on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    Alas, Ken, I could not point you to any theorist who would corroborate what I am saying(either that or I am entirely too lazy to go find it). I’m just using what little I know about economics that assumes that the cost of labor is the biggest expense any business has and that those costs will be reflected in the price. I’ll fuck off if that doesn’t do it for you, and I’d understand if you wanted me to.

    These people have not all snuck in. We have let them in and allow them to remain because we need them.

    Americans don’t do certain trades anymore-take the ports controversy, where everyone was aghast that our seaports were 80% run by foreign countries. What no one realized is that stevedoring is just not an American trade anymore, and we had to import. Some work, we just don’t do and we can’t get paid enough to do it. If the wages and benefits were attractive it would work but like I keep saying, what will happen to the price of that service? Will it be out of reach or too burdensome for our poorest to afford it?

    I simply don’t see how you can get Americans to do that work for even twice what the immigrants are getting. I am of the opinion that it isn’t a matter of American attitude about hard work-it’s just that the labor is horrid and a fair wage for it will refuse to be found that will not wreck the market.

    Nationalize the ag industry. That’s just all I can think of to end the exploitation of immigrants, employ Americans, control prices and meet demand.

  20. By ken grandlund on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    Telling you to fuck off would be inappropriate and uncalled for in what has been a civil discourse, and even if it wasn’t civil, I’d not likely so it. Not that kind of guy (most of the time.)

    And I hear what you are saying about American’s not doing certain kinds of work- not that we can’t or shouldn’t, just that we don’t. But I think that is a pretty shabby attitude for a nation that pretends that all are created equal and that all work is valuable.

    on the food front- if we need immigrant labor, why not (re)create a legal program that works, inclusive with the laws already in place against illegal immigration? too many special interests keeping this down, i know, but it’s the right thing to do.

    good talk here Ron-thanks.

  21. By Ron on May 2, 2007 | Reply

    ” But I think that is a pretty shabby attitude for a nation that pretends that all are created equal and that all work is valuable.”

    Been reading Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward”, a utopian novel from the 1880s that envisioned a society organized as an industrial army that had that central value, and they would create incentives for people to do terrible work or shorten their hours because of the nature of the work. It’s pretty cheap and full of interesting, if not controversial ideas.

    “if we need immigrant labor, why not (re)create a legal program that works, inclusive with the laws already in place against illegal immigration?”

    How will we skirt fair labor standards if we did that? Of course it’s the right thing to do. I would love it if we could do the right thing, but I just don’t know if it’s possible without federalizing farms and funding our food sources more publicly than usual. I would gladly pay a reasonable progressive or marginal tax for stable food prices and a exploitation-free food system-as I would to bring national healthcare to all Americans.

    I got a little news blurb on my cellphone that Lou Dobbs was getty all hyperactive about no one noticing it was fucking “Law Day” on May 1st, and that instead the media was paying attention to a protest full of people who break the law. Why doesn’t Lou just rename himself O’Reilly and have it done with if he’s going to be this smarmy?

    Law Day. Who the fuck cares? Our anti-commie response to May Day in the nuclear 50s. Whatever.

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