Thoughts on (illegal) Immigration

Heads Up. The following post contains a political perspective. I know that some of you find that unsettling, preferring to read the periodic ramblings about my children, musings on technology, or the occassional scriptural reference. Don't say you weren't warned. Oh yea, it's pretty long too. Fortunately, many of you are the bookish sort.

On Monday, protesters nationwide will march in the streets as part of a day erroneously titled "A Day Without an Immigrant." I say erroneously because a more proper name would be "A Day Without an (illegal) Immigrant", but that wouldn't fit nicely on a bumper sticker.

One of their chief objectives, as I understand it, is to appeal to the U.S. government to naturalize thousands of illegal immigrants who are currently in this country. I'm here to tell you that's a bad idea.

Before you flail about crying foul, reminding me that we're all immigrants and telling me how heartless I am, hear me out. I do not fear immigrants. I am, after all, the grandson of immigrants. Legal immigrants, that is. My grandparents, Germans from Russia, made the trip in the early 1900's to a country where they did not know the language. They settled on some of the last (and frankly, least desireable) land that was still available for homestead in central North Dakota and got down to making a life for themselves.

I have thought many times how my life would be different had they stayed, nevertheless, I have 2 reasons why I think it is a bad idea to offer blanket naturalization to illegal aliens.

1) Practicality
In the 1800's and early 1900's, immigration laws were much more lax. It was easy to get in. Much easier than now. Why? Because the US needed the labor in the manufacturing sector. Immigrants came and filled needed roles. Most current illegal immigrant workers are holding jobs in the service industry where it is hard to track them. While we have appreciated the convenience, in all reality, we could live without their help.

The CNN article linked above notes that Cargill Foods will give up to 15,000 workers the day off to march in the protests. It should be noted that a vast majority of these workers - if not all of them - are legal residents of the United States. Deporting the illegals would not close Cargill Foods.

Even more important are the economics of public assistance. The US took on the liability of hosting immigrants a hundred years ago when medicare and other public assistance was unheard of. An immigrant carried their own weight or they didn't make it. In the current public assistance culture, an illegal immigrant suddenly made legal will most likely consume more public money than they will produce.
2) Principle
It is ludicrous for someone to subvert the law of the United States and then demand the rights and priviliges that being a US citizen affords. It has been said that they are being taxed without representation in Washington. What has not been said is that they will never be called upon to defend the country, either. Reinstitute the draft and they are in no danger of being sent anywhere. Citizenship is a balance of rights and responsibilities, and it seems that they want the former while having skirted the latter.

I've been to Mexico. I would not care to live in Mexico. I dare say that were I to have been born there, it's likely that if I were denied legal immigration, I'd find a shallow spot on the Rio Grande and make my way to the US myself. Once here, I would keep my head down and work hard like many illegal aliens do. What I would not do is demand full citizenship with the knowledge that I had subverted the system.
I realize this post is long on ideals and short on answers...but that's because I think our answers need to stem from our ideals, not the other way around. I am not proposing a wholesale roundup of every illegal alien. I am not suggesting we revive Pat Buchanan's 1996 border fence idea.

I am merely suggesting we hold to the rules...that if you expect the full benefits of citizenship, then you must come by them legally. If the rules are too complicated to navigate (and they very well may be), then let's change the rules. But by all means, let's not say the rules don't matter.

I know that there are illegals who have come to the US and made huge contributions to our nation. I do not negate their contribution. I worry about how all this will affect them. In many cases, their more militant countrymen could cause more trouble for them than good. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, our country was founded on the rule of law - that it applied to one and all. To suspend those laws on this one issue is to say that it was all for naught.


I do have one more plan...annex Mexico. Offer the whole country a 2 year tax abatement if they promise to clean up the rebar. Call it Texas South. Or Old Mexico. Or SouthSouthern California. I don't care. It gives them citizenship, and gives us a place more tacky than Vegas (Tiujana), a great off road race (The Baja 500) and vast oil fields that we don't have to fight for.