Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Immigrant Song: The US, abortion and the debate on illegal immigration

"On we sweep with threshing oar
Our only goal will be the western shore..."
-Led Zeppelin, `The Immigrant Song'

(Thanks to American Patrol Report for the graphic)

(This first appeared on this site March 28th, 2006, Given recent events and the continuing stalemate on this issue, I thought it was worth a rerun for those who hadn't seen it)

If there's one major issue that's certain to make people crazy in America it's the massive influx of illegal immigrants into the country, primarily from Mexico and Central America. Want to start a guaranteed screaming match? Pick your setting and either mention that `undocumented aliens' should receive full amnesty or that we have to enforce the laws, round `em all up and ship `em back across the border and watch the tension level go out of control.

What's missing from a lot of opinions expressed on this topic,of course is sanity, common sense and a sense of responsibility.

Talk to the average proponent of illegal alien rights and ask him if he likes the idea of his taxes doubling or tripling to take care of the cost of education, health care and other social services for illegal aliens; mention how the influx of cheap labor has served to lower wages for working people across the board, or talk about how illegal immigrants affect traffic gridlock, overcrowding in schools and the housing crunch and you usually get shocked look and an `I never thought of it that way'.

Ask one of the round `em up and ship `em out crowd whether they're willing to pay double and triple for produce, restaurant meals, construction and carwashes, pay more for the gardener and the nanny and have more kids and less abortions and you get the same response.


Let's look at a few basic facts.

First, it's simply not true that illegal immigration is a net benefit to the USA, unless you're an employer looking to pay the lowest possible wages and zero benefits. The cost of illegal immigration to society is staggering, mostly paid by local government and far outweighs whatever social security or sales taxes are paid in. And a number of these people work off the books anyway and pay no taxes.

You also have to factor into the equation the $40 billion plus per year that is sent to Mexico and points south every year from America and siphoned out of our economy. Believe it or not, Mexico's second highest source of revenue after oil is remittances from expatriate Mexicans.

It's also not true that these are simply people `doing jobs Americans won't do.' There are plenty of highly unpleasant, smelly and hard labor-style government jobs that have a long waiting list to get hired - because they pay decent wages and benefits.

There's also this simple, but unpleasant fact; in a post 9/11 world, we simply can't afford to leave the back door open.

On the other side of the argument, criminalizing 11 million people, ignoring the part they play in our economy and attempting to eliminate them from American life or otherwise marginalize them is heartless, unrealistic, poor policy and ultimately doomed to failure.

And there's another tough nut to crack - illegal immigration is linked up with the abortion issue. Here's how that works:

The massive increase in abortions and the massive influx of illegal immigrants both started in the early `70's, when Roe V Wade became the law of the land. Since then, the USA has been averaging about a million abortions per year, overwhelmingly from consensual sexual relationships as a form of retroactive birth control. Do the math..that's over 33 million Americans who never grew up to work, pay taxes or pay into Social Security to help support the retirement of the very generation that killed most of them off - the Baby Boomers.

It couldn't have worked out better than if a diabolical insider with the Federal Government had planned it: let a group of people into the country illegally who will provide plenty of cheap labor and drive wages down. Business will love it. These folks'll also pay into the Social Security fund and help fund the retirement of all those Boomers, but most of them won't be able to utilize the system. And the cost of their medical care, schooling and other social welfare costs will be a problem for local governments..while the Federal Government looks the other way.

Never thought of it quite that way, did you?

And of course, nobody ever figured how high cost of all this was going to end up being...or foresaw 9/11 happening.

The key words to use in resolving this situation are Americanization and enforcement, so that the country as a whole can actually benefit from the presence of what is, for the most part exactly the sort of hard working, decent people America should encourage as immigrants. And that description fits 90% or more of the people we're talking about, who had the courage to leave a failed society and take the risk of starting somewhere new.

Here's a modest proposal to solve this problem once and for all.

The first issue that needs to be faced is enforcing our borders.

The Bush Administration and Congress need to do whatever it takes to enforce border security, even if it means militarizing the borders. In a post 9/11 world, anything less is simply unacceptable. If the US government can keep Cuban cigars out of America, it ought to be able to keep illegal aliens out of the USA..they're bigger and easier to spot than a box of cigars.

Second, we need to see realistic penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegals and laws prohibiting anyone without legal status in the US from sending a dime out of the country. The banks and Western Union will scream, since they make a fortune off it, but it needs to happen.There... I just pumped $40 billion or so into the US economy with one piece of simple legislation.

Third, we need to know who's here, and decide who gets to stay and who leaves. Give every illegal alien 45 days to go to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office and file an application, complete with their current address, fingerprints and employment information as the opening step on a path to legal status and citizenship. They would be given a special class of federal tax ID numbers that need to be stamped and renewed every 30 days to enable them to continue working while their background is checked and they undergo a health exam, with the requirement that they inform the ICE of any changes in residence or employment that occur.

Anyone NOT reporting to the ICE or not renewing his special federal tax ID number would be subject to criminal penalties followed by immediate questions asked. Likewise, anyone who fails background or commits a crime in the interim gets imprisoned or deported, as the situation warrants.

The carrot always works better when combined with the stick.

Vetting these people is a big job and will take some time, true..but better late than never. And better than another blanket amnesty or a `guest worker' program that simply assumes people will leave when they're told to. And it makes more sense than the idea that people will voluntarily pay up to $3,500 in fines for the privilege of getting in line for a green card, Senators McCain, Kennedy and Presidente Bush. I wouldn't expect out-of-touch types in Washington D.C to understand this, but it's a lot cheaper than that for an illegal alien to take a walk down to MacArthur Park and simply purchase a counterfeit green card. Especially since, due to the arcane privacy rules, nobody checks that closely anyway.

And finally, we need to streamline and reform the arcane immigration laws we have on the encourage people who want to come here to do the right thing and use the system.

Next, we come to Americanization.

The problem here is that an entire subculture has been allowed to flourish that has everything to do with the further balkanizing and racially splitting American society and nothing to do with mainstreaming and integrating people...which of course is the sheer genius of how America has dealt with and assimilated the waves of immigration of the past.

There are a whole bunch of people with a vested interest in keeping this situation exactly the way it is. Either they want to exploit these people for their own political agendas or they merely want to ensure that Leaf Blower Guy, Senorita Nanny, Manuel Labor and their kids remain as a permanent,low paid underclass.

Language is a major starting point. English, like it or not,is the language of access into American life.

We need to make a major effort towards the immediate funding and expanding of free English immersion and ESL classes to anyone who wants them, coupled with a moratorium on bi-lingual education and one on ballots, driver license applications, and the like in half a dozen languages.

And I see no problem with encouraging able bodied, qualified young would-be immigrants to move to the head of the line to earn their citizenship by enlisting in our military.

To see how the language issue works, Israel is an excellent modern example.In Israel, new olim (immigrants)from dozens of countries and cultures are assimilated into Israeli society, taught Hebrew language skills and turned into Israelis by a system of government programs geared towards assimilating them onto Israeli life, including the use of ulpan courses..Hebrew language immersion that has worked successfully to mainstream immigrants from places as diverse as America, Brazil, Yemen and Ethiopia.

America used to be able to do that sort of thing quite well, until political correctness and cultural relativism came to be more important than a cohesive society that still was able to celebrate its diversity but acknowledged a common culture and language.

It's high time we got back to basics and common sense on something as basic as immigration. The majority of the 9 to 11 million people who are here without legal status are a major human resource and an asset, and it's high time we started treating them as more than the source of a cheap car wash.

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