Framing the Dialogue

Don’t Give Me Your Tired Immigration Debate

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

                                                  Emma Lazarus

The next few years promise to include a lively debate about immigration.  The mainstream media can be expected to paint conservatives as anti-immigration and liberals as pro-immigration.  These are typical media narratives and highly predictable.

What gets lost in the debate is that when most of us think of immigration we think of Ellis Island.  When you visit that historical site, you come away with an image of those who crossed into our country.  The problem with the media is that they lump legal and illegal immigrants under the same umbrella. 

Few in the United States cannot trace their heritage back to an immigrant.  Many of us only need to go back a few generations to link to another country.  I happen to be the grandson of immigrants.  They were LEGAL immigrants.  Contrast what transpired at Ellis Island the last two centuries with the current situation of our often-lawless southern border with scores of people daily crossing illegally into our country. 

These folks are different than the scores of people who enter our country and become legal citizens.  Calling someone who breaks the law and enters our county illegally an immigrant is an insult to all legal immigrants and their descendants.  What happened to immigration policy that caused the shift from lawfulness to lawlessness?

In 1924 the U.S. Congress passed legislation to reduce the quotas on immigration.  Additional laws were enacted over the next decades to further reduce the number of immigrants.  Historically, quotas were placed on where immigrants came from and even what skills/jobs that they would have.  In other words, we preferred immigrants with skills and knowledge that benefited our country.  Our country flourished.

In 1965, however, the Johnson Administration signed the Hart-Celler Act, which abolished national quotas (preferences for legal immigration from certain countries such as in Europe).  Many of our current policies were also started at that time such as giving preferential immigration status to relatives of those already here.  Mark Levin uses the term “chain migration” in his book Liberty and Tyranny. 

Levin dedicates an entire chapter to immigration.  He uses many statistics to show that this change in policy resulted in poorer, less education and less skilled immigrants.  This caused a significant increase in unskilled, poor illegal immigrants.  Our politicians, of course, fixed this in 1986 with the signing of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. 

This essentially granted amnesty to an estimated 3 million illegal immigrants and promised additional border security and immigration enforcement.  Signing this legislation may have been Ronald Reagan’s biggest gaffe in office.  What government does is pass legislation to make themselves look good, then neglect to fund things like border security and immigration enforcement.  

The politicians had not used focus groups to the extent back then so we did not have phrases like “bring these people out of the shadows.”  Levin provides some interesting statistics such as nearly one in three immigrants is illegal, 33 percent of immigrant-headed households use at least one major welfare program, and immigration accounts for nearly all of the national increase in public school enrollment over the last two decades.  Read Levin’s book for more stark facts. 

We are essentially importing poverty through our immigration policies.  Are you tired of hearing that illegal immigrants are just doing the jobs that Americans will not do?  I am!  I had the opinion, and Levin picks up on this too, that many industries want cheap labor, politicians want the votes, etc.  Everyone looking out for themselves…future voters and future cheap labor.

Our benefit may be cheaper produce because farm owners can use illegal immigrants, however, simple economics show that, while produce may be cheaper, costs associated with support of illegal immigration (social services, hospital visits, schooling, welfare programs and crime) cause a substantial increase to our tax liability and strain on our economy.  How many articles have you read about the financial crisis in border states?

Levin makes the case that cheap labor begets cheap wages.  If the illegals were not available, industries would have to automate or increase wages to attract Americans to the jobs that they will not do.  Supply and Demand always works.

A last issue that I wanted to touch on was again about the difference between current immigration and past immigration.  My daughter was working on a project earlier in the school year about the United States.  She asked my opinion about why America was great (yes she actually goes to a public school where this was an assignment).  I rattled off several different thoughts, but settled on the fact that we were a melting pot.

Many cultures came together, assimilated and became Americans.  The neighborhood where I grew up had many “Bubas” and “Nonas” who barely spoke English.  Their children spoke English, but also were able to converse in the old language.  We grandkids new less of the older language (usually only the curse words – I still know a few), but maintained ethnic traditions.  We all shared one thing though; we were Americans.

Current immigrants in many parts of the country do not seem interested in assimilation.  They still identify with their country of origin more so than as Americans.  Levin points out that in 2001 only 34% of eligible legal Mexican immigrants opted to become United States citizens.  I have to ask why have immigrants here who do not want to be Americans.

I have a few suggestions for immigration policy (this will make me sound like a racist):

  • Zero tollerance for illegal immigrants – deport.  If that is too extreme for you, send all illegals to sanctuary cities to live.  They want them, they can have them.
  • Border security, border security, border security – how about Sheriff Joe Arpaio as Border Czar?
  • Illegal immigration enforcement – go after companies that hire illegals.  They take jobs away from legal citizens and immigrants.
  • Do away with automatic citizenship just because you happen to be born here.  No more anchor babies.
  • Implement real national identification or have state identifications with sufficient safeguards against rogue states allowing lax policies to undermine enforcement.
  • And my most controversial position – English as the national language. 

In this recent article someone actually calls it a “right” for non-English speaking people to have their prescriptions translated into whatever language is native to them.

“”Limited-English proficient community members all over New York State need strong interpretation and translation services as safeguards to health and to ensure equal access to health services,”

Expect your prescription costs to increase dramatically.  Did you know that hospitals have to have translators on call in case a patient needs a translator?  Hospitals have been sued because they do not have foreign language interpreters available for “limited-English proficient” patients. 

The proposal for an English national language may actually save lives.  Anyone opposing this must hate immigrants and must, in turn, be a racist.

“A different language is a different vision of life.”

                                                        Federico Fellini
Simply put…

Immigration – I am for it (with constraints)

Illegal Immigration – I am against it

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