Friday, May 05, 2006

Just my thoughts on immigration

I have no particular insight into the immigration issue, but some things have occurred to me over the past few weeks, especially after all the protests earlier this week.

When did "illegal immigrants" become "undocumented workers?" It makes it sound like someone just lost their paperwork or they didn't fill out form WBM-625/2 properly.

When did there become "jobs that Americans won't do"? I think that's just code for "jobs that Americans won't do for $4 an hour and no health insurance." So much for the free market for being the solution to things. I guess we're as addicted to cheap Hispanic labor as we are to oil.

Conservatives are lately all up in arms about the National Anthem being sung in Spanish. Dubya has even said it should be sung only in English. I guess things were different back when he was on the campaign trail and was trying to court the Hispanic vote.

Dubya is also convinced that we need a "guest worker" program. In fact last year, he gave a speech describing it:

I propose a new temporary worker program that will match willing foreign workers with willing American employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs... This program will offer legal status, as temporary workers, to the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States... The legal status granted by this program will last three years and will be renewable -- but it will have an end.

So, in other words, he expects that illegal immigrants that have come to the country to work and live here permanently will up and register for a program that will make them leave after three years.

Except that we basically have that program already. It's the HB-1 visa. Dubya is just planning to extend it to unskilled labor and limit it to three years. Then, he claims, the immigrants that were happy to come here and live here illegally right now will just pack up and go home, rather than staying here and working here ... Illegally.

His program also expects American employers to look for American employees to do the job first, before going looking for immigrant labor. Yeah, because right now the reason that these businesses hire illegals is because they can't find Americans to do the work? I imagine that if Blockbuster paid what meat packing does, had the same hours and the same risk of injury, you'd see a lot more video clerks named Jose.

The notion of building a fence across the US-Mexico border also is getting a lot of play. Partly for illegal immigration reasons, partly for "security" reasons. I forget where, but one some other blog, the author pointed out that the number of immigrants that have entered over the Mexican border is zero. The number that have come here across the Canadian border is two.

One thing that does annoy me is people that go on about how this is a "nation of immigrants." That's bullshit. Yes, white people did immigrate to this country, and yes, our country is quite multi-cultural with all its creamy, melting-pot goodness. But I'm sorry, that doesn't mean we have a moral obligation to throw the borders open wide and say to anyone, "If you can get here, you can live here." At some point this became a sovereign nation, and we actually get to decide who lives here now. Unless, of course, this faction is suggesting we turn the entire country over to the American Indians.

This isn't to suggest I'm at all anti-immigrant. In fact, I think we should find some sort of legal status for people that immigrated here illegally, but have lived and worked here for years, put down roots in their community, and probably even have American children. I just think that all the proposals I'm hearing -- from both sides of the political spectrum -- are stupid.

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