Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Immigration Overview

First, let me briefly explain where I stand generally on "immigration" and discuss why I, like many others, have experiences and leanings that influence my position. I am against the current bill for many reasons but foremost is the obvious problem with the bill that the stated enforcement provisions are like wisps of smoke that will vanish in the air.

I do support real enforcement, and secure borders first then bills to specifically address the assimilation of existing illegal aliens and how better to control and allow necessary and favorable immigration to occur on an ongoing fair basis. I am not hung up necessarily on a fence but more border controls coupled with enforcement of proper hiring by business is a must and now. I also am in favor of ID cards, sadly including all Americans, to control our borders, our jobs, and our national security. I say sadly because it is against the nature of this country and the design of our founders but this isn't the wild old west anymore where we know who the bad guys (and girls) are nor do we live in a time where the very notion of suicide bombers seeking to kill hundreds of thousands of people is unimaginable.

I am sympathetic to illegal immigrants especially Hispanics because of two main experiences:

1) My oversight of manufacturing plants in Texas with a majority of Hispanic workers that were legal as far as we could determine as to paperwork and government reporting (although I doubt that all were legal and doubt that the government would report back a bad social security number) and the fact our Hispanic workers were tremendous employees, and

2) My experience in the Catholic Church where our new Hispanic neighbors and church goers were more enthusiastic, pious, willing to give and work for the good of the Church and often more commendable than we "native" Americans.

So I am very sympathetic and many would call me soft on immigration, and I am, but not to go so far as the current bill goes.

I have three articles that I recommend to everyone to read as of today. First is a piece in the WSJ by Pete Du Pont which explains better than I can my own feeling on this bill, entitled "Security First." Here is an excerpt:

America's illegal immigrant admission has accelerated over time. Congress and President Reagan granted amnesty to three million illegal aliens in 1986; and the current President Bush wants to legalize another 12 million now, which sends an arithmetic signal to other immigrants who want to slip into America that 20 years from now whoever is president will perhaps grant amnesty to 48 million illegal immigrants.

We do need to secure our borders, issue legal ID cards to immigrants, and admit people skilled in the jobs we need to fill. But experience shows that our government lacks the political will to enforce such an immigration policy. Georgia state employee Reagan W. Dean was recently quoted in the New York Times: "Maybe it is possible to secure the border. Maybe it is possible to establish an employee identification system. But I don't have any confidence it will be done."

Many Americans agree with him, so a serious and substantive bill that would restore the people's confidence is the Senate's task this week.

Next is a piece from the May 2007 edition of City Journal detailing some of the worrisome sociology behind the assimilation of immigrants. This is by John Leo and here is a touch of "Bowling with Our Own":

Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, is very nervous about releasing his new research, and understandably so. His five-year study shows that immigration and ethnic diversity have a devastating short- and medium-term influence on the social capital, fabric of associations, trust, and neighborliness that create and sustain communities. He fears that his work on the surprisingly negative effects of diversity will become part of the immigration debate, even though he finds that in the long run, people do forge new communities and new ties.

Putnam’s study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. Trust, even for members of one’s own race, is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friendships fewer. The problem isn’t ethnic conflict or troubled racial relations, but withdrawal and isolation. Putnam writes: “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’—that is, to pull in like a turtle.”

And last is a long piece from Commentary that I wish our Senators and our President had read and understood before embarking on this very poorly written and frankly bad immigration bill. The key point here is that we have two large immigration problems not one. The two problems are illegal immigration and legal immigration both of which are the result of a broken and unaddressed systems of our government on many levels. A brief cut form this excellent analysis from Yuval Levin, "Fixing Immigration":

Getting legal immigration right will be more complex than addressing the illegal inflow from Mexico. It is not a yes-or-no question but a matter of deciding how a nation of immigrants should regard those wishing to make America their home, and of translating that attitude into policy and practice at a dangerous moment in history. But if it is more complex, it is also more important. How we choose new immigrants, and how we help them to become , will determine whether we can remain what we are: a nation uniquely welcoming of outsiders yet also united around a set of ideas and ideals, a nation with a special place and purpose. That is another of the many ways in which immigration has been and can continue to be good for America.

I hope you read all three articles, form your own opinion, and influence your neighbors and legislators.

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