Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More on Immigracion


I have no quarrel with immigrants per se. I do have a problem with illegal immigration, however. I want to make that very clear.

I have, in fact, sponsored one person for legal immigration to the U.S. The forms I had to fill out, pre-9/11, were very clear that this person would be my responsibility should the U.S. decide to admit him/her. My responsibilities included providing food, shelter, clothing, medical services if needed. This person was ineligible for any assistance from the U.S. Government for a minimum of three years. I agreed to do so. This particular person, besides completing paperwork in their home country, also had to present a medical certificate and an affidavit that she/he had not been convicted of any crimes.

Immigrants who chose to come here illegally bypass those requirements. And I am riled when I see those who have chosen not to follow the rules demand special treatment. It's not fair to reward them, effectively penalizing those who did play by the rules. I have worked with many who have waited in long lines, filled out endless forms, who have been separated from spouses, children, parents, family for long months while negotiating the labrynith of the INS office. I have seen a line of people around the block at 8:00 a.m. around the building that houses the INS in San Francisco, standing patiently, forms in hand, trying to do the right thing.

Why isn't the MSM telling their stories?

There is an interesting article about immigration in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle. The Chron, as it's fondly known around these parts, generally is not perceived as a conservative newspaper. I thought this article was pretty balanced and non-hysterical. Yes, it does blame the U.S. for some of the immigration problem, but this article is one of the few I've read that points out that Mexico is also responsible and that this mass immigration is not necessarily a good thing for their culture and economy, either.

Key paragraphs:

"Roughly 10 percent of Mexico's population of about 107 million is now living in the United States, estimates show. About 15 percent of Mexico's labor force is working in the United States. One in every 7 Mexican workers migrates to the United States.

"Mass migration from Mexico began more than a century ago. It is deeply embedded in the history, culture and economies of both nations. The current wave began with Mexico's economic crisis in 1982, accelerated sharply in the 1990s with the U.S. economic boom, and today has reached record dimensions.

"It is unlikely to ebb anytime soon."

The article continues: "Three-quarters of the estimated 12 million illegal migrants in the United States come from Mexico and Central America. Mexicans make up 56 percent of the unauthorized U.S. migrant population, according to the Pew Hispanic Center...

"Entire rural communities are nearly bereft of working-age men. The town of Tendeparacua, in the Mexican state of Michoacan, had 6,000 residents in 1985, and now has 600, according to news reports. In five Mexican states, the money migrants send home exceeds locally generated income, one study found.

"Last year, Mexico received a record $20 billion in remittances from migrant workers. That is equal to Mexico's 2004 income from oil exports and dwarfing tourism revenue.

"Arriving in small monthly transfers of $100 and $200, remittances have formed a vast river of "migra-dollars" that now exceeds lending by multilateral development agencies and foreign direct investment combined, according to the Inter-American Development Bank."

This migration causes problems, not only in the U.S., but in Mexico as well: "
While migration has long served as a safety valve for Mexico, the current wave may also be hindering the political and economic reforms that most agree are needed -- in education, taxes, energy, agriculture and law, where systemic corruption is a serious barrier to growth.

"The good news is that a million Mexicans were on the street recently demanding good jobs and good government and justice," Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, told a recent panel at the American Enterprise Institute. "The bad news is they were marching in someone else's country. Every day, thousands of Mexico's most industrious people leave their families behind ... leading many to wonder why Mexico's political class is not capable of creating economic opportunity for its citizens in a land rich in mineral wealth, hydrocarbons, agricultural potential and human capital."

And then, there are those who make sensible suggestions: "Given the predominance of Mexicans and Central Americans in illegal immigration to the United States, Papademetriou wonders why the Senate's guest worker program would be open to all comers, if it is intended to provide temporary workers for the U.S. market.

"If 60 percent of our illegal immigration comes from a single country, and another 20 percent comes through that country, logic would say the vast majority of visas should go to the country of origin," he said. "The last thing you would do is create a global temporary worker program, as if somehow we should need Bangladeshis or Russians to pick our fruits and vegetables."

We, the citizens of the United States, are not going to come up with solutions to illegal immigration that are just and humane unless we can openly, freely, and calmly discuss this issue. Without name-calling. Without personal anecdotes. Without protecting sacred cows.

I am not in favor of changing the rule that being born here confers citizenship. I do think the laws currently on our books need to be enforced. The Border Patrol needs to be fully funded and armed with the latest technology. The cost of incarcerating illegal immigrants who are felons should be billed back to their home Governments. Once the felons have done their time, they should be repatriated. Perhaps money wired out of the country should be taxed. There should be a way for employers to check the validity of Social Security numbers and green cards. Employers who chose to hire illegals should be vigorously prosecuted.

Unlike The Anchoress, I am having a difficult time trusting President Bush on this particular issue. I wish he were as firm with Presidente Fox as he was with President Hussein. I wish he'd draw a line in the sand and say, "We're willing to help, but you cannot encourage your people to invade us illegally." A little more backbone, a little less red carpet. A little more American idea that you wait your turn and line-jumping is not allowed. (If President Bush needs an example, he should look at the section titled Park Policies on the website of Six Flags Amusement Parks.)

I'd feel a whole lot better about his other ideas, then.