Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Immigration Thing

I am having a tough time with this new immigration "debate" going on currently in America. On this issue, both the right and left sides of the political spectrum are divided. I am divided as well.

On the one hand, many pro-business conservatives like illegal immigration because it is a source of cheap labor. You know those business tycoons -- anything to screw the workers! But there are also those on the right who want to put up a fence along our border with Mexico and begin deporting all illegals immediately. They don't care about the cheap labor, and want all illegals to be considered criminals. While that is -- technically -- true, the notion of a mass deportation of millions of illegals would yield such a disturbing image, that the US would be even more hated than we are already are. How do you forcibly remove millions of people from their homes and send them across the border? It would have to be the military. Are we ready for that?

The left is making this a civil rights issue. They view the current GOP-proposed bill as discrimination against Latinos. I can see that a little bit. But illegal is illegal. If you intentionally came into the United States without permission, you did commit a crime. That is indisputable. What is so wrong about enforcing our laws? That person -- no matter what his or her ethnicity -- knowingly broke the law. If that law is meaningless to him, you have to wonder what other laws he might deem meaningless as well. What about stealing? Rape? Murder? I know that is a little extreme to jump from an illegal border crossing to murder, but the point is a valid one. Furthermore, if the person is undocumented and no one knows who he or she is, how do we know that they didn't commit crimes in their home country? It's a safety issue.

My ancestors didn't come here on the Mayflower, they emigrated to the US. At that time, there were strictly enforced ethnic and nationality quotas designed to keep the US with a white, European-descent majority. My great-great grandparents came here from Hungary and Russia, and they were not exactly the type of immigrants that the majority population wanted: they were Jewish. Many Jews were denied access - my relatives weren't. We got lucky. That was the 1880s.

I'm sure my relatives did all sorts of shit jobs once they got here. While doing those jobs, they made a lot of effort to learn English, and to try and become as much of a "typical" American as they could possibly be. They faced all sorts of discrimination on the basis of their religion and on their immigrant status. The times were very different back then, but some things have not changed.

Let's fast forward to today's debate. We have a serious problem with "undocumented workers" or "illegal aliens" -- whatever your preferred term is. That is a fact. Having 10 million people running around the country without anyone knowing who they are is a potentially dangerous situation. So, what are protesters protesting about? They are protesting a provision in the new immigration bill that makes entering the US without permission a felony. The law also imposes stiff penalties on employers who hire illegals, and proposes building a fence along the border with Mexico.

Let's look at these provisions for a second. There is nothing wrong for any nation to guard its borders and to require permission for people to enter to visit and/or work. That goes without saying, right? So, coming into the United States without permission is committing a crime. Having that crime be a misdemeanor is not really any type of deterrent. Is making it a felony really so bad? In today's climate with international terrorists looking for any way to get into the United States undetected, is having a fance on the border such a horrid idea? There has to be something there.

I guess my dilemna comes in because I am sort of uncomfortable with the tone of the GOP House bill. It does smack of prejudice against Mexican people. But it is not fair to assume that just because someone is in favor of strengthening border enforcement, that they are a racist. We do live in dangerous times; and if millions of illegals cross the border each year, is it so unreasonable to question whether or not a few Al Queda members might have slipped across, too? However, there are pretty stiff penalties for employers who hire illegals in the bill. This is good. The punitive aspects of the bill are not solely for immigrants. Perhaps, these employers will fit hiring legal immigrants or citizens into their business plan. It's probably cheaper than getting a stiff fine. I am against the requirement that anyone who aids an illegal (i.e. hospital, church, etc) could face jail time. Doctors and ministers have an obligation to help anyone who needs it, and should not be subject to prosecution for doing so.

But some of the protests last week were a little problematic. When people who came to the US illegally protest out in the open with signs proclaiming that America is really "their homeland" I have an issue with that. If you want to come to America for a better life -- c'mon in! But don't start making claims for some new entitlement because hundreds of years ago there was a battle over this land, and you lost that battle. At one point in our history, all of America "belonged" to some other nation or people. Things change.

I'm done writing about this issue. Like I said, I am torn and don't have a clear cut position on this. I like how this issue is hurting the Republicans, but it is a serious problem and it needs to be resolved.


Randall said...

My family and I live near the border and of course given our proximity, share an opinion on the subject. I have listened to both sides of the issue and live in a community that has strong ties to border economic. What I have observed and experienced is that anyone who disagrees with the advocates of open borders is the race card being played on the spot. Hispanics I have come in contact with believe they are entitled to free medical coverage, preferential treatment and the right to act as if everyone who is not Hispanic and refuses to speak or learn Spanish is in fact a racist.

The truth of the matter is that in my community, the city and county does nothing without first taking into consideration Hispanics. One cannot even go into the local Wal-Mart without having to hear Spanish over their loud speakers and televisions, with English only occasionally being spoken. As I stated, I live near the border, not on the border and I have known individuals who speak perfect English but will only speak Spanish and then will look down on the individual who only speaks English. This is the mentality of the many Hispanics I have met.

In the United States, especially the South West, Hispanics are catered to in a sordid display of expectant entitlements, ranging to preferential treatment in our schools to those of the work place; I fail to understand this kind of thinking. Already, if an individual is Hispanic they can go to college and receive scholarships for just being Hispanic. They can also join organizations that are Hispanic only groups, whereas if I wanted to belong to a group that was representative of my skin color, I would be considered a xenophobic, a double standard to say the least. If in school the student doesn’t speak English, an interrupter will be provided, as well as, papers and forms in Spanish. There are no expectations to learn English and it would appear to even suggest doing so, once again places the individual in the category of being prejudiced.

Now, we have the issue of border control and Hispanics/Mexicans marching and protesting as if, once again they are entitled to be in the United States without rule of law that applies to everyone else and that by virtue of there race can come into this country and steal our benefits and take up space in our public schools, when they shouldn’t be in this country in the first place; because they have entered the United States illegally. Every time an illegal alien uses benefits in this country, they take away from those who are citizens of the United States or are here legal; this is an affront to American citizens. The law must be abided by and those who are here illegally must be sent back to Mexico at once. Our borders must be strengthened and a no tolerance policy implemented. Illegal aliens and those employers who hire them are stealing from this country and should be prosecuted by the law for theft. It is in fact a sad state of affaires knowing individuals who have served this country have less or nothing in the way of health care and that an illegal can receive more benefits for their family before a veteran and there family is a travesty.

The United States must put a stop to this madness and hold politicians accountable for their lack of action. When a politician refuses to do the right thing because they fear it will cost them votes from Hispanics and their special interest groups, they need to be made aware that there policies will no longer be tolerated. I for one will not vote for a single politician who will not support boarder reform. I am tired of my family being put second and having the race card played, simply because we’re not Hispanic. I am tired of the crime that crosses the border and makes its way to our neighborhood. I am tired of preferential treatment of Hispanics in my community and I am tired of illegal aliens stealing benefits that they do not deserve. Mostly, I am tired of any Hispanic who believes I am a racist, simply because I believe our borders should be enforced and that being Hispanic does not entitle one to free health care, educational benefits, business and home loans and partisan favoritism from city, county, state and government employers, by virtue of being Hispanic. If you believe I am a racist because I believe the way I do; well then, the feeling is mutual.

Howard Davis said...

Randall --

I'm not sure if you are a real person or one of those "bots" that goes around leaving the same comment on thousands of blogs, but I'll respond anyways.

While I can't make a value judgment about you based solely on one comment, I do think that you are bordering on racism with some of the things you said.

You outward hostility toward Hispanics, and you display it when you make comments like "by virtue of there race can come into this country and steal our benefits and take up space in our public schools, when they shouldn’t be in this country in the first place"

Immigration reform should not be created under the guise of keeping one group of people out. It is supposed to be based on what is best for the country. There are illegals from other countries besides Mexico, but you have no outrage about that.

I don't doubt your sincerity on this issue, but I do think you have a bit of anti-Hispanic racism in your commentary.

Randall said...

I’m not sure I know what a ‘bot’ is, but I was correct when I said the word racist would be thrown at me. My position comes from my own personal experiences and observations. Walking on eggshells is not what I’m good at, honesty is. If the term ‘racism’ is the only word that applies to a person who disagrees with another person on a topic such as immigration, it’s a sad commentary and misuse of a word. I believe it is the other way around, and that reverse racism is clearly taking its place as an excepted norm in or country. As far as other illegal aliens in the United States, they need to be deported too and apply for citizenship under the law, just like everyone else. Obviously, much of my position was taken out of context, especially given the fact I live near the border. It is reasonable then to concentrate on that which is closest to home and impacts my family and me directly. However, you don’t seem to take issue with Hispanics receiving preferential treatment merely because they are Hispanic, only the individuals who question this methodology, why is this?
I would recommend reading once again what I wrote before you allude to term’s such as anti-Hispanic and racism, they don’t fit the point I was attempting to share.

Howard Davis said...

Hispanics receiving preferential treatment merely because they are Hispanic

Where is there any place in American life where that is the case? I have no interest in hearing about "reverse discrimination" because it doesn't exist. It's a term invented by lazy white people (and I am not saying that applies to you) to cover their anger for losing a job, a house, a whatever to a minority person.

You are digging your hole deeper, Randall. As I said in my piece, I think everyone should enter this country legally. But all you offer in your commentary is your anger at Hispanics and all the "preferential treatment" they receive. I doubt you ever even think about all of the special treatment you recieve being a part of the majority population. There is such a thing as white skin priviledge whether you admit to it or not. You and I benefit from it everyday. It's not something that we can help. And I like to keep that in mind every time someone cries about reverse discrimination.

My advice...learn some espanol if you are going to live in a border state. That has nothing to do with illegal immigration, it has to do with demographics.

Howard Davis said...

PS - a "bot" is a computerized spamming device that posts messages on blogs. It is used as a way of advertising. Sometimes, bots post the same comment on 100s of blogs.

Obviously, you are not a bot.

Randall said...

I can see you have No idea what you’re talking about-maybe you have a Utopian ideology (Thomas Moore) and its clear you have not had the race card pulled on you as I have, because maybe where you live everyone just gets along. You don’t believe reverse racism exist? White skin privilege? You must not live near the boarder, because it’s the complete opposite down here. Let me tell you how it is in the real world, reverse racism does exist and if you live someplace away from the boarder, you’re in a bubble on the subject. Mexicans come up here and ruin our neighborhoods when they move whole families in a single home. Their teenagers paint graffiti on new walls and drive the property value down. Mexicans apply for state medical benefits-, which they receive, taking away from people who are here legally or are American citizens. Maybe you missed the part about veterans who have served and have come back injured from the war, and who do you think provides for there families? The VA? The VA only helps the veterans, not the families of veterans, but if you’re a Mexican and cannot get health insurance- the state will give it to you. If you don’t see a problem with that then you do indeed live in a vacuum. As far I am concerned, no Mexican/Hispanic has taken my job, home or anything else from me personally. They steal our benefits; raise crime and trash our city. There is far more I could enlighten you on, but you have your own preconceived notions about things down here with a complete lack of information of the facts. I have been discriminated against because I am white, as have my children. Lastly, learn Spanish? I am an American and I live in the United States, it doesn’t work that way. If you come to someone else’s country the burden of learning that countries language falls on the person visiting not me. I do speak Japanese and German though. I guess you must think I’m just a lazy white guy who has no idea what I’m talking about and our boarder is a safe place to hang out on and down here in the South West we all are buddies? Let me give you a clue. A person who has never been prejudiced in their life becomes that way after they themselves have been discriminated against; you can connect the dots.I in no way intend to offend,I really get upset when someone else is basically telling me I'm a liar, at least that’s my impression.

Howard Davis said...

First off, I never called you a liar. I think you are mistaken -- there is a big difference. Second, I find it interesting that you can make derogatory comments about Hispanics and claim reverse discrimination, but you are not playing the "race card." However, if someone (namely, me) says that some of your statements appear to have some racist overtones -- they are playing the race card. It seems, then, Randall, that everyone plays that card but you?

I have lived in states with high Hispanic populations -- Arizona and Florida -- and the Latinos there were not living the high life and getting all sorts of free services while working white guys are getting the shaft. It's not happening.

I doubt you have "never been prejudiced in your life" as you claim. Everyone has prejudices and biases and to claim otherwise is silly.

Re-read some of your comments. You might not have intended to come off as racist, but nevertheless, you do. That is my constitutionally protected opinion, and I'm sticking to it.