Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Illegal Immigration: An Uncomfortable Truth About Why Solutions Are So Controversial

I think Herbert Meyer is right about the reason why so many Americans are so unhappy about the illegal immigration solutions Congress is considering. He describes what seems to be a large chunk of the predominantly Hispanic illegal population:

They aren't immigrants - which is what neither the Democratic or Republican leadership seems to understand, or wants to acknowledge. They have come here solely for jobs, which isn't the same thing at all. (And many of them have come here illegally.) Whether they remain in the U.S. for one year, or ten years - or for the rest of their lives - they don't conduct themselves like immigrants. Yes, they work hard to put roofs above their heads and food on their tables - and for this we respect them. But they have little interest in learning English themselves, and instead demand that we make it possible for them to function here in Spanish. They put their children in our schools, but don't always demand as much from them as previous groups demanded of their kids. They don't always pay their taxes - or insure their cars.

In short, they aren't playing by the rules that our families played by when they immigrated to this country. And to ordinary Americans this behavior is deeply - very deeply - offensive. We see it unfolding every day in our communities, and we don't like it. This is what none of our politicians either understands, or dares to say aloud. Instead, they blather on - and on - about "amnesty" and "border security" without ever coming to grips with what is so visible, and so offensive, to so many of us - namely, all these foreigners among us who aren't behaving like immigrants.
For a large portion of the American people, I think this concern seethes deep below the surface of their views on the immigration issue (and for many people, not so deep). That's why all the Mexican flags in the demonstrations infuriate so many observers (including me). Please, come to America and contribute - but don't just come here, become an American!

I wonder if intelligent politicians could not put themselves in a stronger position on this issue by empahsizing assimilation as the primary goal of immigration policy. That, it seems to me, is the fundamental issue. Sadly, it will have to be a subject for another post.


Blogger Mark said...

I would add: don't come here to take, come here to contribute. Don't come here to change, come here to join. Don't come here to "re-claim", come here to defend.

Seething? No. Concerned and frustrated? Yes.  

Posted by Mark

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 7:47:00 PM  
Blogger SkyePuppy said...

Alan Keyes came up with the right definition: "Immigration, yes. Colonization, no."

When people come here to become Americans, they are immigrating. When people come here to take advantage of our resources without any intention of becoming Americans, they are doing what colonists did throughout the centuries.

We welcome immigrants. We are offended by colonists. 

Posted by SkyePuppy

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 9:36:00 PM  
Anonymous BlueBuffoon said...

I'm glad to see you saw and posted the Herbert Meyer article. He clearly articulates what is at the heart of antagonism over the rallies against immigration reform.

One diffulty with a goal of assimilation is that there are way too many voices out there arguing vehemently against assimilation, with "leaders" who stand to lose if they can't continue to pit one group against another. There's a little of this drama playing out in Utah Republican politics right now, in which the Hispanic-identity crowd refuses to include a Hispanic who doesn't hold to the group-think line (he's actually a little over the top, IMO, but no more so than the comments made against him).

Another interesting Utah development: It has finally dawned on some of the activists that the Mexican flag business at the rallies is very counterproductive and so participants in rallies this coming weekend are urged to bring American flags. Still strange that they are asked to do this as "a symbol of respect" (loyalty, appreciation, etc. are just too far to expect people to go, I guess), but at least it's a step in the right direction.

Posted by BlueBuffoon

Wednesday, April 05, 2006 9:06:00 AM  
Blogger peconomist said...

Much of this debate revolves around the replacement of "melting pot" or "alloy" with "rainbow" or "mosaic". America was founded on the notion of the "melting pot", however, when the well meaning decided to replace it with mosaic, many got the idea that you could somehow become American without giving up/contributing your particular culture to the greater society.

This shift in Rhetoric has let the "Quebecois" genie out of the bottle; with diasterous results. 


Wednesday, April 05, 2006 12:24:00 PM  

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