Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Immigration's Great if You're Pedro Martinez, but the Rest Is a Mess

Where would American sports of the past 50 years be without immigrants?

The face of American baseball has been radically altered in the past decades by the influx of gifted Hispanics. European basketball players are definitely the hottest trend in the NBA. NFL football sees less of this but there are a few exceptions, with African nationals seeming to be the most prevalent new group of players. Canadians rule the roost in pro hockey, even though most of the teams are located in the U.S.

The point being that, since the color barrier was broken by Jackie Robinson in 1947, American sports have steadily been enhanced by the participation of talented athletes from all over the world. We don't seem to have any problem with immigrants to the sporting world, so long as they can rush the passer efficiently, drill a three-point-shot with the game on the line, or hit 40 homers and drive in 130 runs.

So immigration is a good thing. Right?

Alas, uncontrolled, unbridled and willy-nilly immigration is NOT a good thing. There are very good reasons why the U.S. has the Immigration and Naturalization Service. INS oversees and enforces immigration policy. Policy. P-O-L-I-C-Y. As in, the law of the land, the way our lawmakers have seen fit to deal with a public issue, the current expressed governmental position on a national concern. The United States does not, by statute, allow uncontrolled immigration into the country. There are rules about such things. There are quotas for other countries whose residents want to come to America.

Whether INS and its policing arms are successful in keeping every illegal out of the country is not germane to this discussion. The fact is, that when you enter the United States illegally, you are in violation of existing law. Just because you may have made a long, arduous journey to America, and just because you managed to avoid contact with the U. S. Border Patrol, and just because you managed to arrive in Los Angeles and get a job doing lawnwork, this does not make the fact of your illegality disappear.

Furthermore, just because some American employers have decided to take advantage of this situation, and proceed to pay meager, un-American wages to illegals, this does not confer on illegals some kind of golden status. They remain illegal. In this case, they're just the exploited illegals. And one has to laugh at the reaction of these employers, some of whom have been caught in the news saying, "Without these people, I can't run my business. I'll go under." So...what does that say about your business, guy? It can only be run using illegals who will work for subsistence wages? So, you WANT them to remain illegal? No doubt. Because, after all, if they get legal, you'll have to pay them minimum wage, and take out taxes for them, and maybe offer a health package. Or maybe you'll have to pay $15/hour, in which case you might get applications from all sorts of legal American citizens who will do the work if you're paying a good wage.

I still think it's a myth that "no one will do this work except the illegals..." Offer an acceptable compensation package, and people will come.

Welcome to the messed-up nature of the current immigration imbroglio. At last, a political issue where limousine liberals and President Bush can meet in the middle. I can just see Ted Kennedy clinking glasses with the Prez. Kennedy's for anything that supports people of any color other than white, or who appear to be downtrodden (even, apparently, if they're criminals); Bush, on the other hand—his rhetoric about a guest-worker program aside—likes the fact that illegals are providing cheap labor for his businessman friends. Remember him speaking Spanish during the 2000 presidential election? Remember how grudgingly impressed the lefty media were?

Stuck in the middle—and, as always, without advocacy—is the steadily dwindling American middle class. Everyone knows most tax monies are taken from the middle class. The wealthy legally hide their money, and the poor have none. So the silent majority bears the bulk of the tax burden. It is those very tax monies that support public services and handout programs that are availed by illegal immigrants. The immigrants, mind you, by virtue of their being illegal, contribute nothing (or nada, if you will) to the tax coffers. Yet their very existence ties up millions of tax dollars in INS administration, law enforcement, border patrols, education, emergency medical services, and general welfare expenditures.

How ironic is it that a middle- or lower-middle-class American might pay his taxes, which support emergency health care for illegals, yet he himself does not have access to an affordable health-care plan to take care of his own health needs?

What's very sad is that the recent May 1 national gatherings in support of the illegals sounded not a single note of common sense and understanding about how the current situation affects the average legal tax-paying American.

This is not a story about bigotry, despite the best efforts of some Hispanic leaders to paint that picture. This is not an issue that revolves around skin color. This is about justice, the laws of the land, the methodical, well-thought-out immigration process as administered by the INS, and, lastly, but not leastly, economics.

You can't have open immigration on your country's borders. It's chaotic, it's unplanned, it drains local resources, it's a disruption to an orderly way of life. It's the very reason the INS has its rules, which have been developed over many years and in consideration of the immigration desires of people from all continents.

In researching this column, it took me well into four Google pages on the search words, "immigration issues," to find any story of substance about those who want a halt to the uncontrolled immigration of Mexicans into America. That's because the first few pages were filled with stories about the recent rallies and a ton of liberal claptrap about bigotry against Mexicans.

White Americans don't hate Mexicans. Let's get this one straight. And then let's hear nothing more about it. It's a liberally placed red-herring to distract from the harder, deeper issues.

What would probably be great is an immediate halt to illegals trying to get through the border. If we could get to that point, then maybe we could stop and take stock of the current estimated 10-12 million illegals already here. Maybe then we could get a plan together that would be fair and considerate of their employment and residential and family status. Maybe then, local tax burdens could get a breather. Maybe then, local schools and social-service agencies and the police could start to get a handle on the human issues that massive, unchecked illegal immigration has wrought.

One recent TV report on the topic asked a Hispanic gentleman about the fact of illegality. He blew off the question's main point and said only, with typical umbrage,"We just want to work..." [Subtext: "We just want to work and earn more money here than we would ever earn in Mexico. We don't care about the illegal stuff. We are oblivious to the economic and tax realities that have made this such an important issue in the United States. In fact, we are so desperate to stay, we don't care if we are illegal or not, and we don't care that those Americans who would be our neighbors are assuming an unfair tax burden to put up with us while we are here skulking around illegally, trying to earn our living and trying to avoid contact with the police or any other enforcement arm of the government."]

The Joe Average in a state like California must be beside himself. He works hard, pays his taxes, barely can afford health care (if at all), watches the gap between very rich and very poor become wider and wider, knows that millions of illegals don't contribute to the California tax base, and then turns on his television to see thousands marching all over the country to support illegals' "rights." Meawhile, even the right-wing president can't be counted on to protect this losing proposition of a situation.

Here's a hard fact that few probably think about: Mexico is a Third World country. There it is, right on the border of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. God only knows what Mexican President Vicente Fox has to say about all of this. He's probably very happy that millions of his countrymen have left, because God knows, he's not doing anything to make his country a place where citizens would like to stay. Where is the dialogue between Fox and Bush? It's unbelievable what little leadership there is between these two despots.

People like to think that the idea of building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. is a ludicrous piece of science fiction dreamed up only by right-wing nuts and shotgun-toting bigots. But guess what? In the absence of any effective bi-partisan plan to halt illegal immigration, and in light of the absolute and desperate determination of Mexicans to breach the borders—they will stop at nothing—the wall idea is not looking bad at all. It's straightforward, technically feasible, infinitely effective, and it resolves a problem that will go unresolved otherwise.

Clearly, the Mexicans who would be Americans couldn't care less about the impact their actions are having. They say: "We just want to work, we just want to make a new life for ourselves, and to give our children a future." All great things. Congrats. But there's no such thing as a free lunch, and everything has its price. And there's also that little thing called the INS rules of the game.

Illegals have become the cockroaches of the contiguous U.S. homestead. Now they want amnesty and encouragement (and driver's licenses, too, of course), while millions of other cockroaches are trying to sneak in under the baseboard.

Sorry, folks, but the existing infestation problem needs to be addressed. And in order to deal with it effectively, the baseboard needs to be sealed up in the interim, so the problem won't get worse.

Anyone got a can of Raid? Or maybe an impenetrable 1,500-mile-long border barrier?


Anonymous said...

Next to the United States, Mexico has the second most billionaires in the world. The super-rich in Mexico are kept fat and untroubled because they ship their problems north, and the poor bastards send the pay back home. We are enabling their corruption.

Martin Brady said...

This is an interesting comment. I don't profess to know a lot about internal Mexican society, but I'm constantly struck by how little we hear from them and about them. They don't seem to have any ongoing sociopolitical relationship with the U.S.. All we seem to know is that Americans like to go there for vacation (or to hide!), and that Mexicans are flocking to the U.S. Everyone hides their heads in the sand, but these people are our neighbors. Very strange history here.

Pursuant to this topic, I suggest checking out Tommy Lee Jones' recent film, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. It's a gritty, brooding flick and offers some insight into Mexico-U.S. border life.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I completely disagree that our relentless immigration program is going to go away by building a wall between the Unites States/Mexico borders. After all, the wall is only as good as the people who are willing to respect it. That means, that a wall will only keep law-abiding people out, much like a lock on your door keep thieves out. In reality, in order for the government to solve this immigration problem, it will need to revamp its current immigration policy. It's not a plain and simple answer (like building a wall), but it's the truth.