Illegal immigration: again.
I happened to read another of Mr. Navarrette's
columns on CNN.com. It, like a previous column
of his uses some incomplete reasoning.
First of all, he's right, it's our fault--if by that he means that by our government's failure to enforce our laws it is our fault. And, as with most things this country is facing now, we do fall oh so easily for economic blackmail. Outsource our manufacturing and you get cheap crap at Wal Mart. Import cheap labor and you get your lawn or house spruced up on the cheap. But quite simply this has made the rich richer and done little for the rest of us. The simple argument that illegal immigrants came here "[for] jobs -- jobs willingly provided by individuals and businesses that, in turn, forked over tax dollars and filled town coffers. When businesses do well, the town does well. And when the town does well, the people who live there feel as if they're doing well." Sounds lovely doesn't it? But what he's saying is that the businesses made more money using cheap, exploitable, illegal immigrants. But what about the people who used to do those jobs? Sure many of those jobs used to be done by teens--but are we better off with our teens on the streets or in front of video games? But those are not the only jobs in which wages have fallen and respectable jobs lost. And the number is climbing. And if people are feeling that they are doing so well (notice he didn't say they are
doing well) why are they so resistant to the immigration legislation?
So yes, many people have taken advantage of illegal immigrants, or at least not complained. But I think we will pay a high price for that. Not just in that it serves as an excuse to ignore illegal immigration; but that it is leading to an economic collapse of staggering proportions. I'll rant more specifically about that in another post.
He states in the previously mentioned column. One written when Congress was still trying to get the "Grand Compromise" immigration bill passed.This is Congress we're talking about. If it does enforcement-only, it'll never get to Part II. Look at what happened in 1996, when lawmakers went for the low-hanging fruit of enforcement by passing the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. The law increased the ranks of the Border Patrol and increased penalties for violations of immigration law.
And what happened? The illegal immigrant population grew from about 8 million then to 12 million now. What a good plan. I can see why some folks want to travel that road again. In fact, the author of that failed bill -- Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has joined with Rep. Peter King, R-New York, to propose a new enforcement-only bill in the House of the Representatives.
Swell. What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
What he fails to mention is that in 1986 a law
was passed that gave amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. That obviously didn't stop the problem either. Does it not seem obvious that if we take the "low-hanging fruit" of amnesty now we'll be doing the same thing again in 20 years with even more people? What was that about insanity?
The problem is that Congress can pass all the laws it wants to, to try to control illegal immigration. But unless they fund
the enforcement of those laws they are meaningless. The real problem is that our lawmakers are in the pockets of business, Wall Street, and special interest groups. It seems to take us about 10 years to get fed up with that and demand action. Congress makes a big deal about a new sweeping legislation. We take the bait and then it is business as usual. Those who aren't falling for it again are being labeled racists, bigots and xenophobes. No doubt there are plenty of those around. But there are many others, I include myself in this group, who simply want something real to be done. We're sympathetic to the plight of the illegal immigrants here. Indeed, we want to stop their exploitation. Now and in the future.
All we're asking is that our government do its job and enforce our laws, and fund the agencies that enforce them. I think the issue of legalization of current illegal immigrants would be looked at much more favorably in that light.
But, as I said, it is our fault and not just in letting our businesses and government get away with this for so long. But that, as I mentioned above, is an upcoming and gloomy rant.