Monday, May 21, 2007


I don't really have a position on the immigration bill, and I don't have any idea how to solve the problems we face with immigration. I think many of the people on the right are ridiculously alarmist at best and racist at worst, but I don't doubt that the influx of immigrants puts a huge strain on our infrastructure and economy. Nor do I really buy that there are "jobs Americans won't do." It's a complex issue, and the only absolute I can see in it is that the practice of demonizing (sometimes literally) the immigrants, the poorest and most powerless members of our society, is disgusting and unacceptable. And referring to them as criminals is ridiculous. Yes, they are technically breaking the law, but not all laws are created equal. These people don't come to America to commit violence or theft, they come to get an honest day's pay (or at least the closest they can find) for an honest day's work. You can't tell a man with a hungry family that all the good jobs are on one side of this imaginary line, but he has to stay on the other side. And referring to immigrants as "illegals" is one of the worst manifestations of this. How can a person be illegal?

So one of the lines I keep hearing from the right on this issue is that we are rewarding the people who have broken the law to get here, and punishing all those good foreign people who are waiting in line to legally come here. This sounds like a good argument, but I wonder how true it is. Do these lines of patient would-be immigrants exist? It seems to me that, if you have a hungry family, and you know you can get a good job over the border, you're not going to wait five years for your application to go through. You're going to go get a job. Is this another rhetorical myth the conservatives have dreamed up? Again, I don't know anything about it, and I don't have any scholarship or experience in the area. I'm just wondering aloud.


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