A brilliant ad in which Ted Cruz points out the fact that in our immigration debate, short shrift is given to Americans who have to compete with illegal aliens for low end jobs. Few policy debates in contemporary America are more class driven than the immigration debate. Upper class Americans can be advocates for illegal immigration, knowing that they and their kids will never have to compete with an illegal alien for a job, that they will not live in a neighborhood suddenly inundated with illegal aliens and the criminal gangs that often follow in their wake, and that they will benefit from cheap servants and cheap labor in businesses that employ illegals, and, if they are Democrats, future voters. Would to Heaven that I could say that there was any difference between this attitude of limousine liberals and that of the prelates of the Church in this country, but there really is not. The attitude is quite simply one of, “I will do good, at least in my eyes, and you, the American poor, will pick up the tab.”
Victor Davis Hanson, my favorite living historian, has long thought and written about the problem of illegal immigration into the US. Go here to read some of his earlier thoughts about the issue. He agrees that what is happening currently in the “children’s crusade” to effectively eliminate our southern border is a moral crisis:
Mexico strictly enforces some of the harshest immigration laws in the world that either summarily deport or jail most who dare to cross Mexican borders illegally, much less attempt to work inside Mexico or become politically active. If America were to emulate Mexico’s immigration policies, millions of Mexican nationals living in the U.S. immediately would be sent home.
How, then, are tens of thousands of Central American children crossing with impunity hundreds of miles of Mexican territory, often sitting atop Mexican trains? Does Mexico believe that the massive influxes will serve to render U.S. immigration law meaningless, and thereby completely shred an already porous border? Is Mexico simply ensuring that the surge of poorer Central Americans doesn’t dare stop in Mexico on its way north?
The media talks of a moral crisis on the border. It is certainly that, but not entirely in the way we are told. What sort of callous parents simply send their children as pawns northward without escort, in selfish hopes of soon winning for themselves either remittances or eventual passage to the U.S? What sort of government allows its vulnerable youth to pack up and leave, without taking any responsibility for such mass flight?
Here in the U.S., how can our government simply choose not to enforce existing laws? In reaction, could U.S. citizens emulate Washington’s ethics and decide not to pay their taxes, or to disregard traffic laws, or to build homes without permits? Who in the pen-and-phone era of Obama gets to decide which law to follow and which to ignore?
Who are the bigots — the rude and unruly protestors who scream and swarm drop-off points and angrily block immigration authority buses to prevent the release of children into their communities, or the shrill counter-protestors who chant back “Viva La Raza” (“Long Live the Race”)? For that matter, how does the racialist term “La Raza” survive as an acceptable title of a national lobby group in this politically correct age of anger at the Washington Redskins football brand?
How can American immigration authorities simply send immigrant kids all over the United States and drop them into communities without firm guarantees of waiting sponsors or family? If private charities did that, would the operators be jailed? Would American parents be arrested for putting their unescorted kids on buses headed out of state?
Liberal elites talk down to the cash-strapped middle class about their illiberal anger over the current immigration crisis. But most sermonizers are hypocritical. Take Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the House. She lectures about the need for near-instant amnesty for thousands streaming across the border. But Pelosi is a multimillionaire, and thus rich enough not to worry about the increased costs and higher taxes needed to offer instant social services to the new arrivals. Continue reading
I admit to some puzzlement as to why the Church in this country is so stridently in favor of illegal immigration. The Church in America being in favor of legal immigration I can understand, with so many Catholics tracing their ancestry to the waves of immigrants from Europe in the 19th and early 20th century. But until the day before yesterday in historical terms the Church was never in favor of illegal immigration. I think much of it tends to be that many of the powers that be within the Church in this country tend to favor the political left in most contexts. They are embarrassed that fights over abortion, gay marriage and religious liberty aligns the Church with political conservatives. Being in favor of illegal immigration allows these clerics to align with political forces they find much more congenial. Jack Cashill at The American Thinker gives us a case in point:
Motives, however, are rarely as simple as money. On the question of the church’s motives, one local Catholic explained how the noisy “peace and justice” cliques within the church seized a new opportunity to lure the Church leftward. As she explained, these cliques were attempting to negate the rightward drift of practicing Catholics on life issues by elevating workers’ rights to a comparable status. In the 2000 election, she noted, they tried the same tactic with the death penalty.
The problem for the P&J crowd is that the Catholic Church considers abortion “always morally evil” — “murder” in fact — but has no official position on immigration, legal or otherwise. One can read all four gospels and every encyclical ever written without encountering a single “undocumented immigrant” swimming across the River Jordan. Serious Catholics treat the hierarchy’s showy preference for immigration issues over life issues as some sort of Job-like test of their fidelity.
I had absolutely no intention of saying anything at the press conference. But with the woman’s lucid argument still resonating in my head, I could not resist the urge to inject a note of realism into the Q & A happy talk that followed the speeches.
The Bishop looked at me as if I had just peed on his shoe. “What are you talking about?” he scoffed. As respectful as I try to be to my Catholic clergy, I did not appreciate the public dissing. “Let me tell you what I mean,” I answered and elaborated in more detail what I had already said.
I had expected the other reporters to give me the evil eye, but they did not. My question seemed to remind them of the role that reporters used to play, “Bishop,” said the next fellow. “You keep saying that the Church is supporting immigration. Isn’t this really about illegal immigration?” I did not have time to listen to the answer. I had a 12 o’clock appointment across town, and I had already spent $9.00 on parking.
A few months later the unions repaid the Catholic Church for its support in a way that left me feeling much more insightful than I actually am. The Los Angeles Times summarized the issue succinctly enough: “California’s leading union organization, bucking organized labor’s long-standing neutrality on the issue of abortion, is for the first time taking a strong stand in favor of abortion rights.”
Specifically, the union asked its 2.1 million members to reject Proposition 85. This initiative would merely have required abortionists to honor the standards of ear-piercers and aspirin dispensers and get parents’ permission before going to work on their daughters.
Spearheading the union assault on parental rights was none other than Dolores Huerta, star of the press conference I had attended at the Cathedral. As the Times noted, Huerta, “a Roman Catholic,” had persuaded a pro-choice group to put its many interns to work passing out pro-abortion propaganda to the union delegates before the vote was taken. The union support proved crucial in defeating Prop 85 by a narrow 53 to 47 margin.
Said Tod Tamberg, an Archdiocesan spokesman, “It doesn’t preclude us from working together on those areas where we do share common concerns.” The “it” in question is the union’s decision to sanction what the church considers to be murder. In the battle for the Hispanic soul, the Church hierarchy had already surrendered, and God only knows why. Continue reading
The older I get, the more I comprehend that one of the ways of understanding how contemporary American politics works is the vast gulf that often exists between elite opinion and motivations in this country and the opinions of most Americans. Case in point, illegal immigration. At a time when the American economy is on the rocks and we have a federal debt that can never be repaid short of debt repudiation or ruinous inflation, which is another name for debt repudiation, the political class is focused on a Senate bill to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, amnesty. Leaving aside the merits of the bill, which I suspect is one with Nineveh and Tyre as far as the House is concerned, it is an odd priority until one looks at it as elite opinion does in this country. My favorite living historian, Victor Davis Hanson, does so in a recent column:
Take illegal immigration. On the facts, it is elitist to the core. Big business, flush with cash, nevertheless wants continued access to cheap labor, and so favors amnesties for millions who arrived without English, education, or legality. On the other end of the scale, Jorge Hernandez, making $9 an hour mowing lawns, is not enthusiastic about an open border, which undercuts his meager bargaining power with his employer.
The state, not the employer, picks up the cost of subsidies to ensure that impoverished illegal-immigrant workers from Oaxaca have some semblance of parity with American citizens in health care, education, legal representation, and housing. The employers’ own privilege exempts them from worrying whether they would ever need to enroll their kids in the Arvin school system, or whether an illegal-alien driver will hit their daughter’s car on a rural road and leave the scene of the accident. In other words, no one in Atherton is in a trailer house cooking meth; the plastic harnesses of missing copper wire from streetlights are not strewn over the sidewalks in Palo Alto; and the Menlo schools do not have a Bulldog-gang problem.
Meanwhile, ethnic elites privately understand that the melting pot ensures eventual parity with the majority and thereby destroys the benefits of hyphenation. So it becomes essential that there remain always hundreds of thousands of poor, uneducated, and less-privileged immigrants entering the U.S. from Latin America. Only that way is the third-generation Latino professor, journalist, or politician seen as a leader of group rather than as an individual. Take away illegal immigration, and the Latino caucus and Chicano graduation ceremony disappear, and the beneficiaries become just ordinary politicians and academics, distinguished or ignored on the basis of their own individual performance.
Mexico? Beneath the thin veneer of Mexican elites suing Americans in U.S. courts is one of the most repressive political systems in the world. Mexican elites make the following cynical assumptions: Indigenous peoples are better off leaving Mexico and then scrimping to send billions of dollars home in remittances; that way, they do not agitate for missing social services back home; and once across the border, they act as an expatriate community to leverage concessions from the United States.
Nannies, gardeners, cooks, and personal attendants are increasingly recent arrivals from Latin America — even as the unemployment rates of Latino, African-American, and working-class white citizens remain high, with compensation relatively low. No wonder that loud protestations about “xenophobes, racists, and nativists” oil the entire machinery of elite privilege. Does the liberal congressman or the Washington public advocate mow his own lawn, clean his toilet, or help feed his 90-year-old mother? At what cost would he cease to pay others to do these things — $20, $25 an hour? And whom would he hire if there were no illegal immigrants? The unemployed African-American teenager in D.C.? The unemployed Appalachian in nearby West Virginia? I think not. Continue reading
Last week Jason Hall posted a column at the Catholic Stand that somewhat snarkily takes on the question of why illegal immigrants don’t just come here legally. Jason rightfully points out that it’s not exactly a piece of cake to legally immigrate to the United States. The process is terribly cumbersome, and it takes years for most people to finally gain legal residence, and that’s the case for people who have more connections and resources than the typical migrant worker.
That being the case, while Hall’s column does a good job at highlighting the inefficiencies of the immigration system, what it does not do is provide justification for the comprehensive immigration reform proposal being discussed in the Senate. As I said in the comments to his post, the question of whether the current process of legal immigration is cumbersome is not germane to the question of what to do with those individuals who have nonetheless entered the country illegally.
Now some have addressed this by stating that the current system is unjust, and therefore those who have entered the country illegally should not be punished for breaking an unjust law. I should emphasize right up front that Hall himself does not state this, at least in the column, but I have heard other immigration reform supporters make this claim. There are a couple of problems with this argument.
First of all, as admittedly burdensome as the immigration process is, that alone does not make the system unjust. Yes, it’s a bureaucratic mess, but unjust? I am not quite sure that an excess of red tape is an injustice that justifies blatant disregard for American laws and the violation of our sovereign border.
Furthermore, if our system were unjust, those who have immigrated illegally are in fact themselves guilty of committing an injustice, and any legislation that effectively rewarded their behavior would be an even graver injustice. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have begun the process of legally immigrating. The current proposal would effectively grant legal status to millions of people who cut in line, and would do so with minimal punishment. So now some ten million people would have been granted legal privileges ahead of those who respected the laws of this country. Moreover, the already over-loaded immigration bureaucracy would undoubtedly be stretched to even greater degrees in the process of legalizing or normalizing the statuses of those here illegally. I have a hard time believing that the overall immigration process would be smoothed out by such a dramatic change.
There are no easy solutions to this mess, and there are legitimate arguments to be made on behalf of some kind of comprehensive immigration reform plan. Of course it’s hard to avoid the feeling that we’re being sold a bill of goods by disappointingly dishonest politicians. But if we’re going to lament having a broken system, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that those we are trying to help played a large part in breaking it in the first place.
The federal DREAM Act failed to pass Congress; however, President Obama has never been one to let a pesky little thing like the U.S. Constitution to get in the way of achieving his policy objectives.
The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.
The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.
Let’s take a look at Article II of the Constitution (the article dealing with the presidency, for those of you in Rio Linda). Hmmm, we’ve got length of term, eligibility requirements, the electoral college, Commander-in-Chief, state of the Union, adjourning Congress . . . don’t see anything here about just ignoring the will of Congress when they don’t implement policies you approve of.
Oh. Wait. There it is. It’s right between the penumbras and emanations guaranteeing the right to privacy and abortion. My bad. Clearly my Ph. D training was incomplete.
Now you might be upset with this decision, but do not question President Obama’s fealty to the Constitution. This is a man who has been a zealous guardian of the Executive Branch’s duties and responsibilities. And if you don’t believe me, just take a closer look at the tremendous work the Justice Department has done in fighting for the Defense of Marriage Act. No, that president would never let partisan politics prevent him from faithfully upholding the laws of our land.
In all seriousness, this is another power grab that would be impeachable in a saner world. Make no mistake, this is not about the policy itself. That is a topic for another discussion, and is absolutely not the point of this post. The merit of the policy is irrelevant to the concerns over constitutional authority and power. Last I checked this was still a constitutional republic, not an autocracy, and the president of the United States cannot simply make policy absent a grant of legislative authority.
What’s troubling to me is seeing a handful of Catholics applauding this decision, including Archbishop Schnurr of Cincinnati. I understand why these individuals support the overall policy, but again, the policy itself is beside the point. You should not applaud a policy when the manner in which it is implemented so flagrantly violates the Constitution.
So let me say this bluntly: if you approve of the president’s actions in this particular case, then you have absolutely no standing whatsoever to to complain about the constitutionality of the HHS mandate. If you support this action but think the HHS mandate is a tyrannical show of force, then you are a complete hypocrite. You’re essentially signalling that you are okay with usurpation of constitutional authority when you agree with the policy outcome. Just as we can’t be cafeteria Catholics, we don’t get to be cafeteria constitutionalists either. You don’t get to pick which parts of the Constitution you uphold. Now of course constitutions, unlike dogma, can be amended and changed, though I suspect permitting the president of the United States to do whatever he likes whenever he likes would not be an advisable change.
This president has absolutely no regard for the Constitution, and this action only helps underscore this undeniable fact.
I am a proud American with a long and rich Mexican heritage.
My name is Tito Edwards and I approve this message.
(Biretta tip: Lucianne)
Conservatives are fairly comfortable with the point that if you ban or severely restrict guns, than only the criminals will be armed.
Let’s then ask ourselves: If we ban or severely restrict immigration (most especially from a right-next-door country with a much poorer economy, such as Mexico) aren’t we assuring that only criminals immigrate?
If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?
The boycott that Los Angeles is imposing on Arizona has its first victim, the city of Los Angeles itself.
The state of Arizona is about to strike back at L.A. again to defend itself.
A letter written by one of the commissioners of the Arizona Corporate Commission is telling Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to be ready to accept the consequences of his actions:
If Los Angeles wants to boycott Arizona, it had better get used to reading by candlelight.
Basically Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s bluff has been called.
The Lying Worthless Poltical Hack, a\k\a Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, tells Priests and Bishops to speak out on immigration from the pulpit based upon a biblical concern for “the dignity and worth of every person”.
The respect that the Lying Worthless Political Hack has “for the dignity and worth” of the smallest and most helpless among us was well demonstrated by this quote from Naral Pro-Choice America in 2007 after Pelosi became speaker of the House:
“Americans who value freedom and privacy have many reasons to celebrate as Nancy Pelosi takes the Speaker’s gavel to make this historic move forward for our country. For her nearly 20 years in office, Speaker Pelosi has been an effective advocate for women’s health and has championed her pro-choice values by consistently voting to protect a woman’s right to choose. In November, voters across this country endorsed Speaker Pelosi’s call for a change and new direction by electing 23 new pro-choice members to the U.S. House of Representatives. Today, we celebrate as Speaker Pelosi takes the reins; under her leadership Americans can expect a new focus on commonsense solutions, not the divisive attacks that marred the previous Congresses.”
The discussions here about Arizona’s new attempt at enforcing immigration law have set me thinking about a more general question: What should we do as a body politic in a situation in which a law we have passed seems impossible to enforce?
In a sense, no law is enforced perfectly. Cannibalism is against the law, yet it does still, on rare occasions, happen that someone kills and eats someone else. We don’t generally describe this as the laws against cannibalism “not being enforced”. Rather we describe it as someone breaking the law.
When we talk about a law not being enforced, we generally mean that a lot of people are breaking it, and yet few of them seem to be suffering the consequences. Thus, although murders take place on a daily basis in our country, we generally do not hear complaints that no one is enforcing the laws against murder, since we at least see the police and prosecutors going through the process of trying to arrest and prosecute people for those crimes.
The State of Arizona is only enforcing what is already law at the federal level. That being said and myself being the son of a legal immigrant from the nation of Mexico, the May Day protests and the highly unbalanced news reporting from the mainstream media have purposely distorted the legislation that has been passed in Arizona.
Having attended college and lived in Arizona for almost ten years I know for a fact that there are many good people living there and I am disappointed in how unfairly and untruthful they have been portrayed by the mainstream media.
The only other thing I want to say is that Roger Cardinal Mahony’s reprehensible choice of words to characterize the law that had been passed in Arizona is unbecoming of an archbishop.
Related posts on this issue here at The American Catholic:
Somewhat related posts on this issue here at The American Catholic:
Some Democrats think that the Arizona law cracking down on illegal aliens will save them from electoral disaster in November. They think this will rile up the Hispanics, and to fan the flames a few Democrats are making free with their favorite epithet against those who oppose them, Nazi.
I think that these Democrats are pursuing a losing hand on this issue. Illegal immigration is extremely unpopular in this country and overheated epithets will simply further energize the conservative base. More to the point, this election is going to be fought on the economy and government spending, and the Democrats are in dire shape on both those issues. In regard to the immigration issue, I think there is evidence that some Democrats understand that rather than a gift this could be an electoral landmine. This AP story here indicates that Obama concedes that Congress may not have the political appetite for immigration reform anytime soon, and notes the type of legislation that the Democrats propose eventually may ostensibly put enforcement before amnesty: “An immigration proposal by three Democratic senators calls for more federal enforcement agents and other border security-tightening benchmarks before illegal immigrants could become legal U.S. residents, according to a draft of the legislation obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press. The bill is being developed by Reid of Nevada, Chuck Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.”
In an earlier post this week I quoted my favorite living historian Victor Davis Hanson on the issue of illegal immigration. Here are his current thoughts on immigration as a political issue in the Fall:
A Losing Political Issue
The politics of illegal immigration are a losing proposition for liberals (one can see that in the resort to euphemism), even if they don’t quite see it that way. Here are ten considerations why.
First, there is the simplicity of the argument. One either wishes or does not wish existing law to be enforced. If the answer is no, and citizens can pick and chose which laws they would like to obey, in theory why should we have to pay taxes or respect the speed limit? Note that liberal Democrats do not suggest that we overturn immigration law and de jure open the border — only that we continue to do that de facto. Confusion between legal and illegal immigration is essential for the open borders argument, since a proper distinction between the two makes the present policy indefensible—especially since it discriminates against those waiting in line to come to America legally (e.g., somehow our attention is turned to the illegal alien’s plight and not the burdensome paperwork and government obstacles that the dutiful legal immigrant must face).
Why Wave the Flag of the Country I Don’t Wish to Return To?
Second, often the protests against enforcement of immigration law are strangely couched within a general climate of anger at the U.S. government (and/or the American people) for some such illiberal transgression (review the placards, flags, etc. at May Day immigration rallies). Fairly or not, the anger at the U.S. and the nostalgia for Mexico distill into the absurd, something like either “I am furious at the country I insist on staying in, and fond of the country I most certainly do not wish to return to” or “I am angry at you so you better let angry me stay with you!” Such mixed messages confuse the electorate. As in the case with the Palestinians, there is an effort to graft a foreign policy issue (protecting an international border) onto domestic identity politics, to inject an inflammatory race/class element into the debate by creating oppressors, victims, and grievances along racial divides.
Big Brother Mexico?
Third, Mexico is no help. Now it weighs in with all sorts of moral censure for Arizonians — this from a corrupt government whose very policies are predicated on exporting a million indigenous people a year, while it seeks to lure wealthy “gringos” to invest in second-homes in Baja. The absence of millions from Oaxaca or Chiapas ensures billions in remittances, less expenditures for social services, and fewer dissident citizens. But the construct of Mexico as the concerned parent of its own lost children is by now so implausible that even its sympathizers do not take it seriously. Mexico has lost all credibility on these issues, expressing concern for its own citizens only when they seem to have crossed the border — and left Mexico.
It’s Not a Race Issue
Fourth, there really is a new popular groundswell to close the borders. Most against illegal immigration, especially in the case of minorities and Mexican-American citizens, keep rather mum about their feelings. But that silence should not be interpreted as antagonism to enforcing the law. Many minorities realize that the greatest hindrance to a natural rise in wages for entry level jobs has been the option for an employer to hire illegal aliens, who, at least in their 20s and 30s, will work harder for less pay with fewer complaints (when sick, or disabled, or elderly, the worker is directed by the employer to the social services agencies and replaced by someone younger as a new cycle of exploitation begins). In this context, the old race card is less effective. The general population is beginning to see not that Americans (of all races who oppose illegal immigration) are racist, but that the open borders movement has itself a racially chauvinistic theme to it, albeit articulated honestly only on university campuses and in Chicano-Latino departments, as a sort of “payback” for the Mexican War, where redress for “lost” land is finally to be had through demography.
I am a pretty big fan of the Catholic Worker movement and Dorothy Day. I see strengths in both liberal and conservative tendencies, and find both indications in my reading of the official documents and speeches/letters of our Catholic Hierarchy on political matters.
The following article is one that was published in the Houston Catholic Worker Newspaper back in 2008. The author, Dawn McCarty is a frequent writer and volunteer at the Worker House in Houston. She seems to combine the head and heart in her approach to the issue of illegal Mexican immigration into the U.S. I offer her analysis for your commentary:
Immigration seems to be a hot topic these days at American Catholic. The author who best represents my views is Victor Davis Hanson, one of my favorite living historians, in his book Mexifornia: A State of Becoming. In that book Hanson turned his gaze to a subject he is personally familiar with: the transformation of his native California by massive illegal immigration from Mexico. Hanson is not anti-Mexican. He has several Mexican relatives, his daughters are dating Mexican-Americans and most of the people he grew up with are Mexican-American or Mexican. What Hanson is opposed to is our feckless non-policy on immigration which allows steady waves of illegals to flood our border states and does not give us time to allow us to assimilate the Mexican immigrants here. Hanson believes strongly that the vast majority of immigrants, given time and opportunity, will assimilate and become good citizens. That is my view also. However it is impossible for this to be accomplished unless we gain control of our southern border and curb most illegal immigration. A good book on a major issue that both the Republican and Democrat parties have steadfastly ignored, until the passage of the Arizona law.
Mexifornia came out in 2003. Hanson wrote an article in 2007 for City Journal reviewing what had happened in the intervening years, which may be read here. I find his class analysis of the immigration question interesting:
Since Mexifornia appeared, the debate also no longer splits along liberal/conservative, Republican/Democrat, or even white/brown fault lines. Instead, class considerations more often divide Americans on the issue. The majority of middle-class and poor whites, Asians, African-Americans, and Hispanics wish to close the borders. They see few advantages to cheap service labor, since they are not so likely to need it to mow their lawns, watch their kids, or clean their houses. Because the less well-off eat out less often, use hotels infrequently, and don’t periodically remodel their homes, the advantages to the economy of inexpensive, off-the-books illegal-alien labor again are not so apparent.
But the downside surely is apparent. Truck drivers, carpenters, janitors, and gardeners— unlike lawyers, doctors, actors, writers, and professors—correctly feel that their jobs are threatened, or at least their wages lowered, by cheaper rival workers from Oaxaca or Jalisco. And Americans who live in communities where thousands of illegal aliens have arrived en masse more likely lack the money to move when Spanish-speaking students flood the schools and gangs proliferate. Poorer Americans of all ethnic backgrounds take for granted that poverty provides no exemption from mastering English, so they wonder why the same is not true for incoming Mexican nationals. Less than a mile from my home is a former farmhouse whose new owner moved in several stationary Winnebagos, propane tanks, and outdoor cooking facilities—and apparently four or five entire families rent such facilities right outside his back door. Dozens live where a single family used to—a common sight in rural California that reifies illegal immigration in a way that books and essays do not.
The problem with all this is that our now-spurned laws were originally intended to ensure an (admittedly thin) veneer of civilization over innate chaos—roads full of drivers who have passed a minimum test to ensure that they are not a threat to others; single-family residence zoning to ensure that there are adequate sewer, garbage, and water services for all; periodic county inspections to ensure that untethered dogs are licensed and free of disease and that housing is wired and plumbed properly to prevent mayhem; and a consensus on school taxes to ensure that there are enough teachers and classrooms for such sudden spikes in student populations.
All these now-neglected or forgotten rules proved costly to the taxpayer. In my own experience, the slow progress made in rural California since the 1950s of my youth—in which the county inspected our farm’s rural dwellings, eliminated the once-ubiquitous rural outhouse, shut down substandard housing, and fined violators in hopes of providing a uniform humane standard of residence for all rural residents—has been abandoned in just a few years of laissez-faire policy toward illegal aliens. My own neighborhood is reverting to conditions common about 1950, but with the insult of far higher tax rates added to the injury of nonexistent enforcement of once-comprehensive statutes. The government’s attitude at all levels is to punish the dutiful citizen’s misdemeanors while ignoring the alien’s felony, on the logic that the former will at least comply while the latter either cannot or will not.
Fairness about who is allowed into the United States is another issue that reflects class divides—especially when almost 70 percent of all immigrants, legal and illegal, arrive from Mexico alone. Asians, for example, are puzzled as to why their relatives wait years for official approval to enter the United States, while Mexican nationals come across the border illegally, counting on serial amnesties to obtain citizenship.
These class divisions cut both ways, and they help explain the anomaly of the Wall Street Journal op-ed page mandarins echoing the arguments of the elite Chicano studies professors. Both tend to ridicule the far less affluent Minutemen and English-only activists, in part because they do not experience firsthand the problems associated with illegal immigration but instead find millions of aliens grist for their own contrasting agendas. Indeed, every time an alien crosses the border legally, fluent in English and with a high school diploma, the La Raza industry and the corporate farm or construction company alike most likely lose a constituent. Continue reading
When I first heard of the controversy swirling around Arizona’s “draconian” new immigration law, I’ll admit I was skeptical. It’s not that I thought I would approve of the Arizona law (I tend to be of the view that immigration is a net benefit to America). But hyperbole is an all too common feature of political discourse, and I had to wonder whether the bill was really as harsh and wrongheaded as its critics were making out.
After reading the text of the bill, however, I have to say that, yes, it really is that bad. The bill would criminalize charitable activities directed at illegal immigrants, would making it a crime for an illegal immigrant to try to get a legitimate job, and, in an Orwellian twist, would make illegal immigrants guilty of trespassing for being on private property even with the owner’s permission.
The law also requires state officials to enforce federal immigration laws, effectively turning every Arizona cop into a part time border patrol agent. Arizona’s politicians may like the idea of having cops enforce the immigration code because it makes them look tough, but actual police tend to hate the idea, as it makes their job more difficult and forces them to take resources away from actual police work. (During the debate on the Bush immigration bill back in 2006, for example, the Major Cities Chiefs Associations came out against a requirement for state police to enforce immigration laws, arguing that doing so “undermines trust and cooperation with immigrant communities, which are essential elements of community oriented policing,” and would require scarce resources to be devoted to immigration enforcement rather than other, higher priorities). Continue reading