Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I heart illegal aliens

The battle over immigration is reaching a head in Washington. In December, the House passed a bill requiring employers to verify social security numbers, mandating the construction of 700 miles of fences at the U.S./Mexico border, and making illegal residence a felony. Meanwhile, the Senate is preparing to debate their own bill that would allow illegal immigrants to become permanent residents and creates a guest-worker program. Republicans are split, protestors have flooded the streets of cities across the country, and the issue is fissioning.

First of all, building fences isn't going to stop anyone desperate enough to abandon their entire life for opportunity in the United States. These people aren't just skipping across the border because they want to, they are coming because they have to. They lost their farms when NAFTA shifted the trade balance and made it cheaper to import many traditional crops than to buy locally in Mexico. They can't feed their families.

And then there is the second major component of the immigration debate: do you punish those who are already living in this country -- eleven million of them -- or do you find a way to integrate them into our society? The fact of the matter is that they are already integrated into our society, invisibly, tending our crops and building our houses. We need them as much as they need us, whether we want to admit it or not.

There is no simple solution to the immigration "problem." There are many ways to make it worse. Militarizing the border and creating eleven million new felons, for example. In my opinion, the best ways to deal with the issue are first to make trade fair and work with the governments of these countries to eliminate the conditions that drive their citizens away, and to make it easier for immigrants to become legal residents and continue to play their valuable role in our economy.

1 comment:

  1. All Bush's retread of the Bracero Program is going to do is create a permanent labor underclass, like Muslims in Europe--and look how well that's working out there!

    Of course, if we just through the border wide open, like it was in the early TwenCen and before, Mexicans would come here, work, and go home. This would be better for them, but worse for the U.S.

    As it is, our current idiotic and murderous policy pushes Mexicans to stay here for fear they won't be able to get back in if they leave, which will help to fulfill Ruy Teixeira's predictions of Latinos making the rest of the Southwest blue states, just as former Nixon/Reagan bastion California is now. Considering all the Goldwater and Delay stuff these states have often produced with Anglo majorities, this can't but be an improvement, as you probably know far better than I living in liberal island Austin.

    Besides, a Blue Texas would serve Bush right, and be awfully good for the U.S., and hence, indirectly, Mexico and the rest of the world. So, with the addition of enough humanity to stop people dying of thirst in the desert, maybe the current policy has its advantages, precisely because of its idiotic genius for accomplishing what it seeks to avoid--the cultural displacement of Anglos.