Thursday, July 29, 2010

Illegal Immigration - Is this Really So Difficult?

I think I'm a reasonable person. I believe in logic and reason - even if I'm not always logical or reasonable. I hope that this post comes across as both logical and reasonable, but I realize that hot-button issues are never that easy because people allow their fears and emotions to take control. Let me take a deep breath (in, out), here it goes:
Immigration. The only topic in the American political landscape that brings out the crazies more than immigration is abortion. I'm only tackling immigration (specifically illegal immigration - there is a big difference) because it's hit the news once again, courtesy of U. S. District Judge Susan Bolton and the State of Arizona.
As I predicted months ago, the most hotly-contested parts of Arizona's SB 1070 was struck down. I think the Judge Bolton had personal motivators in making her decision, a Clinton-appointed judge ruling in favor for the Justice Department just might end up with a cush appointment from Obama after all, but I think the decision was correct. I base some of my thoughts on it being struck down in the court because it is the federal government's responsibility to regulate immigration. A similar thing happened with California's Prop 187 many years ago. An individual state can enact whatever legislation they want, but that doesn't mean that it's the right thing to do or that it will be upheld in court.
SB 1070 was remarkably short and easy to read. However, it was not good legislation. It allows an officer to question one's legal status based on "reasonable suspicion" of violation. What exactly does that mean? Who do you think will be targeted? I'm guessing that some would give the blanket answer of "Mexicans," but one's national origin is not clear based on appearance (or name) alone. Plenty of so-called brown people are American citizens and plenty of so-called white people are not. Is it okay to subject our darker skinned citizens to this potential for harassment? I don't think so. Indeed, I think it's un-American.
Now don't accuse me of being a yellow-bellied, pinko-commie, liberal Democrat because I am absolutely not. Indeed, I've never once found myself voting for a Democrat or a porky social program. However, I do not believe that it is a good idea to ask local law enforcement to be in charge of enforcing immigration law because there are too many opportunities for abuse.
Who would be asked to show proof of citizenship anyway? Everyone? Just brown or yellow people? Only people with noticeable accents?  Only people with foreign-sounding surnames?  I'm white with a European surname and no accent so I shouldn't worry or care, right?  Bullsh*t. 
I don't know about any of you, but I don't keep my passport (I don't even have one!) or my birth certificate on my person. I typically only carry my driver's license, a credit card, an insurance card, and a AAA card these days. None of those items is proof of citizenship. . .is a Social Security card proof? I'm not sure, but I never carry that around (unless it's my first day for a job) for obvious reasons. Asking to see citizenship papers gets a little too close to a place that I don't ever want to see this country visit. And racial profiling is wrong. Yes, yes it is.
I love immigration, our vibrant immigrant community is one of the things I like so much about living in Southern California, but I do not like illegal immigration. Spare me the rhetoric about how the Europeans (specifically the Spanish, French, and British) who moved to North America were also "illegals." Remember that North America was not drawn up into clearly defined countries at that time. Regardless, I can't go back in time and change what happened hundreds of years ago. North America is drawn up into clearly defined countries today (the lands were won or bought) and there are laws specifying how those countries handle immigration.
Countries have been invaded by force since boundaries were first drawn up and it still happens to this day. I know there are some who feel that there is an invasion (a somewhat silent war, if you will) occurring right now and I think that language is intentionally inflammatory and designed to incite violence against a specific ethnic group. Sure, there are some whack-jobs who cling to their Aztlan dreams, but it just isn't going to happen on a broad scale and certainly not across this entire country. And I think, I hope, that most Hispanics do not want the US to become a northern version of their homelands.
I guess I won the birth lottery by being born in the US. If I wanted to move to another country, I'd do it the legal way because the threat of foreign imprisonment is a pretty big deterrent for me. Geez, I'm afraid to act the fool in certain parts of this very country for fear of how tough they are on crime. And what if the immigration process is difficult? I'd still do what it takes because I believe in following laws.  I'd certainly follow the laws of the country I want to live in and embrace as my own.
A family relation (by marriage) moved here from the UK a little more than two years ago and I acknowledge that the immigration process is pretty freaking crappy. It's a long process and it's expensive. But guess what? It's the process that this country has decided to follow and if you truly want to become an American, you will not flout her laws from the get-go. Breaking laws right from the start only serves to make the general public view you with a suspicious eye.
Yeah, yeah, I've heard that illegal immigrants only do work that no one else will. I call BS on that. I'm going to focus on labor-intensive jobs here because most Fortune 500 companies don't do executive-level recruitment in the parking lot of the local home improvement store. This notion that illegal immigrants do work that Americans (immigrants or otherwise) won't do is ridiculous - especially given the state of our economy. My father worked on potato farms as a youngster; he washed dishes and bused tables in a restaurant when he got a little older. My brother was a dishwasher at a hospital. My sister worked in fast food. I worked in fast food. A niece swept up garbage on the ground at a local theme park. I have a friend who was a car washer, a friend who worked in a gas station (this is back when they had full-service), and a couple of friends who worked newspaper delivery routes as teens and again as adults. All these people are Americans (one was an immigrant) and they were willing to do the work. Frankly, this type work is what has traditionally been after-school jobs and stuff to keep retirees busy. Perhaps even an income-supplementing second job. With the economy slumping, I'd guess that plenty of adults who have lost their jobs would do whatever it takes to put food on the table and keep a roof overhead.
One totally awesome thing about Arizona is that it mandates employers to use e-verify. I am aware that e-verify is not perfect and it can't determine if someone is working while assuming another person's identity, but it's a start.  I suspect that we'd do a lot to discourage illegal immigration if every employer, every school, and every medical facility would verify citizenship. Of course, then we'd be back in Prop 187 territory. . .so I guess we'll just have to stick with putting the burden on employers. Read an I-9 form sometime and you'll quickly realize that the burden has been on the employers all along.
I can understand that certain states have major problems with illegal immigration (Arizona is faaar from being the lone ranger there!), but states do not have the right to regulate immigration and that is not just my opinion. Sure, the Feds seem to be more interested in pandering than regulating, but it is still their responsibility. I agree that casting a bright spotlight on the illegal immigration problem is totally necessary because those who should be dealing with it are not. Hopefully this will force a little action, but I'm doubtful because lawmakers can't afford to be painted with the racist brush. Yeah, I know that being against ILLEGAL immigration doesn't make one a racist, but that's how they end up depicted in the media. It sucks that you are depicted as anti-everyone else if you are Pro-America.
Eh, what am I thinking? Nothing meaningful will likely be done about stemming illegal immigration because politicians and the press seem to only believe, or at least they imply, that only Hispanics are here illegally. Being anti-illegal makes you anti-Hispanic (generally anti-Mexican) in their minds.  That thought process is so stupid that I want to facepalm every time I hear it. Sure, Mexico is close to us geographically, but it's ridiculous to claim that illegals only come here from Mexico. I won't even start to address college students who overstay their visas because that could be an entirely new post. Turn your sarcasm meter on: No, no one from any other country comes here illegally. No, that would never happen. Yeah, right, that's the ticket. Like I said, the idiocy makes me want to facepalm.
You want an inconvenient truth, here's one for you: Swinging hard against immigration (I left "illegal" out of that statement just like they leave it out of the headlines - gotta love that yellow journalism!) will basically kill any chances of gaining control of the much-desired Hispanic voting bloc. That's why our politicians are such damned p*ssies while discussing this matter. And that's also why the GOP really has to walk a fine line on this issue.
You want to send a message that you're mad as Hell and aren't going to take it any longer? Vote all incumbents out of office. That's really the best way to get a politician's attention. It's naive to think that they give a crap about us little people. All they care about is their own personal power and enrichment. See for a clear breakdown of your elected officials and their recorded positions/votes. If you disagree with their positions, or find them too cowardly, vote them out of office. That said, I am not a single issue voter and I think it's pretty lame to make your voting decision on how a candidate feels or votes about one single issue - no matter if it's immigration, abortion, health care, military issues, taxes, social programs, or the 2nd Amendment. The right to vote is precious, but it is also a big responsibility. Use your vote and use it wisely.
As far as SB 1070 is concerned, let's see what the U. S. 9th Circuit Court (heavily left-leaning, I know) says on the matter before it's declared dead. 
I have no problem with immigration, but I do not like illegal immigration. Is this unreasonable? I don't think so, but I suppose it is to some and I question their reasoning. If you are okay with (or like) illegal immigration, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on it - provided that we can remain civil and respectful while discussing the topic. Should you choose to engage me in debate, please remember that illegal immigration is not a race issue. If you pull the race card, I'll have no choice but to dismiss your thoughts because you aren't thinking clearly and you're most likely a racist yourself. I acknowledge that certain states may have more trouble with persons of specific national origins, but one can not realistically claim that all "illegals" are from one specific country. That is unfair (untrue is probably a better word) and it is racist - two things I try not to embrace.

No comments:

Post a Comment