Tuesday, May 1, 2007

It's time to tell the truth

It is so easy to be politically correct - makes no waves and makes everybody happy.

It's time to tell the truth. Maybe I'll make waves. Maybe some people will take issue with me. But what is plain to see can be told, and if some people still want to say they see something different than what I see, well that's their right too.

Today, May 1st, rallies in cities across America featured illegal aliens demanding their rights, telling news anchors they 'just want to help their family', they're 'hard workers and shouldn't be illegal' and so on. So therefore, say these people, they should be granted citizenship, legal status, all the rights of an American.

Strangely, not one of them that I heard said "I love America. I want to be an American. I'm turning my back on the country of my birth, and my future is to become a U.S. citizen."

No, not one. What they did say is that they needed money, that they had a right to be here because they were able to cross an unguarded border, and that people that didn't want them here are prejudiced. They want to make money here, take it over the border, and have citizenship in both America and (fill in the blank Latino country).

Where is the passion for this country that my grandparents had when they left everyone they knew and came here from Finland? Where is the commitment to America that my grandparents had when they applied for American citizenship and swore loyalty to this country and no other?

I only see a passion for material wealth, and privilege. Fine, my ancestors came to better themselves too. Only they didn't think anyone else should just hand them privileges without getting anything in return. They gave all they had -- their loyalty, their lives invested here and here alone.

The truth is, there are over six and a half billion people on this planet, and about half of them want to live in America, make money in America, have rights like Americans. Many of those people have invested years in legal applications for visas to immigrate to America.

What gives the Latinos who made up the majority of today's marchers the right to push ahead of all those other people to the head of the line? What is special about them, that they should get citizenship or work visas before people who have legally applied?

The truth is - nothing. Nothing at all. The have no special rights and no special abilities. They have only one thing those other people don't -- proximity to a loosely guarded border that they have crossed illegally.

Do I sound cold? Proud? Uncaring? WELL then - you try "caring" for the half of the world's population that suffers from lack of freedom, or food, or job opportunities. You might quickly become overwhelmed. You might decide, as have I, that you can send money to starving orphans, and people suffering from earthquakes or tsunamis, but inviting a few billion of them to come live in your country doesn't make much sense - not for you and not for them. Because your country will quickly take on the woes of the places they left. Your country will soon run out of resources to help its own people - or anyone else.

Isn't the better solution to encourage those other countries to find their own path to a fair economy and equality for all their citizens? There are things we can do to help - buy FAIR TRADE products, elect men and women to Congress who will stand up for fair foreign policy, Give regularly to Mercy Corps or some other highly rated medical group that will help reduce illness in impoverished countries, thereby giving the person (and by extension, their whole country) a better opportunity to work on their own future.

Sure there are other aspects to the immigration issue: languague, assimilation, culture clash, crime, and yes - job issues from both the employer's and employee's views, -- many other issues.

And not one of those other issues can take precedence over fairness (after all, 'fairness' is what all the rallies were about today, right?)

Fair is to expect people who want the rights and priveleges of citizens to invest their lives, their WHOLE lives, in THIS country, along with all the rest of us. Fair is to expect that people take turns with everyone else who wants to come here, and not start out their demand for fairness with "but only for us, not those others".

Fairness is equal justice and equal immigration opportunity for all, not just those who are close enough to illegally cross a border.


heather said...

it's a difficult issue. i mostly feel for those seeking political refuge - if you live under a dictatorship or communism (or both), your options for change are much more difficult to exercise.

Pandababy said...

Yes, I feel for them too. I'm glad our government grants political asylum to some. We must have compassion, and with it we must exercise wisdom.

Kat said...

I might be more sympathetic if I didn't work in agriculture and have a good idea how much of our food supply depended on these folks.

You cannot get Americans to work on farms. Period. Not if they can get a job anywhere else -- and frankly, not if they *can't* get a job somewhere else. It's hard work for poor pay with a high skill level, and Americans want no truck with it.

It might be different if farms were near sites of major unemployment, ie cities, but by definition they aren't. And the unemployed or underemployed out in the sticks tend to be ex-factory workers. We've tried, and tried hard, to retrain those few factory workers who've come to work for us into a job where they have to pay attention. Doesn't work. They generally last about two weeks before they decide Welfare is a much easier path.

We don't have any Hispanics working for us at the moment, but we have in the past... and while they do have their faults as workers and it's hard to generalize, they are in general more used to hard physical labor and more willing to learn new skills than Americans. They'll show up when you ask them to, even if that's 5 am. They'll work for what you can pay them, even if it's less than McDonald's. They don't balk at the lack of benefits.

On bigger, more industrial farms than ours, they are pretty much the *only* source of labor. I don't like those kind of farms but I can sympathize with them in that respect... it's hard, damn hard, to find someone who will work on a farm, and you take what you can get.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating, the latest stats show that 71% of farm workers are "foreign born". The average wage for farm workers is $10,000 a year -- about 7K under the living wage. The *only* way you can live on that kind of money is to spend part of your year in a country where the American dollar buys more than it does in America.

I'm not blaming you for your rant, btw. :) It's easy to talk about the population of illegals draining our resources, unless you are in a position to know that our food supply will collapse without them. It's a bad situation... bad for us, who have to bear the burden in health care and other areas; bad for them, because there's plenty of farms that are treating these people like slaves, and worse than slaves. I would love to see it fixed. But the fix will have to come on the economic level, not at the border.

Pandababy said...

Lots of good points and common sense in your post, Kat. I agree that walls or whatever at the border is, at best, only a "surface" fix, while what is needed is an in-depth overhaul of a system that is currently failing at several critical points.

We must be able to defend our borders, or we risk our national security and identity.

We have to support farmers better - tax breaks, subsidies, higher profit margins, etc. We all like to eat!

You're right -- I did a rant (blush).

I'm not 'against' migrant workers; in fact I have consistently supported migrant farm workers in my community.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Kat.

Jean said...

I understand what Kat is saying -- she's absolutely right. The legitimate point the illegals make is we want and need them here.

I want a system where they can be here legally. Illegal is illegal. We need to fix a broken system. It won't be fixed by granting blanket asylum. A Guest Worker program of some kind makes sense, but that would probably reduce the benefits of hiring undocumented workers by having to pay Social Security, Workman's Comp, etc.

It's a tough problem, but granting illegals the same rights as citizens isn't the answer either.

Pandababy said...

Hi Jean. "The legitimate point the illegals make is we want and need them here."

One of the problems of so many workers coming here illegally is that criminals also come the same way, and hide themselves among their countrymen. It's one of the many reasons we need better border control and migrants need documentation. A blanket amnesty would benefit the criminal elements as well.

I really have to wonder what our Congressmen and Senators have been doing the past fifty years. It is not as if these problems suddenly just showed up one day this year. The issues and concerns have been clear for decades.

Migrants and guest workers have many rights under our Constitution, even when they're here illegally. Legal temporary workers have even more rights; sometimes it seems like more than our citizens, because of treaties with their home countries.

I'm concerned that we'll end up with problems similar to what France is dealing with now: an unassimilated economic underclass of ethnic minorities, originally allowed in to fill a need for workers, who within just one generation become the tail that wags the dog. Sarkozy's election on Sunday to the French Presidency illuminates how threatened French citizens feel.

I really wonder if the migrant solution to labor problems is perhaps an 'easy' fix that we'll just end up paying more for, later.

I don't think I have any clear answers, just some hard questions.

Jaye Patrick said...

You're right, P., in everything you said. But to fix this problem, the governments - be they state or federal - needs to make agricultural work attractive to Americans.

Yes, your country relies on these illegal workers, but no, it doesn't have to always be that way.

Here in Australia, we find 'em, we deport them; thus avoiding the problem America and France have.

And good on you for not being political correct. It's a load of tripe.

Pandababy said...

A bit late for my reply, but I have to say, thanks Jaye. I wish our elected government would get busy on these problems, instead of burning so much time and energy in posturing for the media. It's getting a bit late for them to just get the job done.