05 June 2007


I've been paying a good deal of attention to all the hullabaloo about who will be the next president, probably because I'm so frustrated with our current administration. On Sunday night I watched a fair amount of the Democratic debate on CNN, and tonight I watched almost all of the Republican debate. First and foremost, let me say, regarding the two debates that the Democratic debate was overall far more intelligent. There was much less pandering and more talking about the issues. It seemed like tonight the Republicans did a lot of issue-avoidance, to the point that I became really annoyed.

Immigration has been on my mind a lot for the last three years, more so in the last year when it suddenly became a hot-button topic, and all of America began talking about it virtually overnight. I intended to blog about it then, but just didn't get around to it. And now I'm going to.

Our nation has been built by immigrants. All of us (unless you are a Native American, and you probably aren't) are Americans because our ancestors immigrated here. Some of those were fortunate enough to get here before America ridiculous laws on immigration. Laws on immigration, when looked at from a historical viewpoint, have always been for the purpose of preventing different people from coming in. Laws were placed on Chinese immigrants early on. Later there were laws which limited the amount of people that could come from each country. Those people from countries similar to America were allowed to immigrate in far greater numbers.

Regarding today's immigration issues- A lot of people dislike, even hate, immigrants. Some people say they only dislike the illegal ones, but I think, on the whole, people are scared that American culture (which is, let's face it, really just T.V. and movies) is being infiltrated by another culture. There are all sorts of ridiculous arguments about how bad immigrants are. I read one on this site, and I found the rebuttal far better than the argument itself.

Our country needs immigrants. We need a lot of immigrants. They really will do the work that nobody else is willing to do. They are not taking jobs away from Americans. In fact, the five states with the highest levels of illegal immigrants (California, New York, Texas, Arizona and Illinois) all have very low levels of unemployment, and unemployment is only measured based on U.S. citizens. Illegal immigrants help our economy because they will work for cheap. If the labor is cheap, the prices are, in turn, cheap. Produce prices are expected to be higher than usual this year because there simply aren't enough illegal immigrants to harvest the crops, and Americans won't take the jobs.

Illegal immigrants put into the system more than they take out. Because illegal immigrants are illegal, they do not file their taxes, and all of their income tax goes into the government and never comes back. That means (at least for the ones who use stolen Social Security numbers rather than the immigrants working under the table) that the money they pay in income taxes isn't coming out. They aren't mooching off American health care and American schools. They are paying their share, and they're not going to receive Social Security payments for the work they do.

Immigrants do not come here because they want to expand their countries. They come here because the opportunities in their countries can only be seized through corruption or with great luck. I have known people from my home town who were very educated in their home countries (lawyers, teachers, accountants) but who came to the States to work as janitors because they are paid better as janitors than as professionals in their home countries.

These people would love to come here legally, but America's system is so convoluted that it's impossible for them to do so. The lines are ridiculously long. The number of immigrants America is willing to allow in is so impossibly small that people who want to come to the States have no choice but to sneak in.

I believe there are two types of immigrants, and this theory comes from and illegal immigrant that I was well acquainted with. The first type is the one who wants to live better. He brings his family here because they can own a house with a washing machine and a dryer, maybe have a car, and they will always have clean water, if nothing else. The second type comes because he wants to be better. He does everything in his power to improve his situation in his own country but finally comes to the States. When he gets to the States, he abides by all the laws (at least the ones that won't send him back to his dead-end life in his home country), he learns English (yes, he learns the language that will most readily help him move up in society), he saves his money and hopes his children will be able to attend college. He would rather be a professional, but for now he is content taking a low-end job, because that's what it takes to move up in this new society. There really is a difference in the ways people behave when they get here. Those who want to live better sometimes make those who want to be better look bad.

Too many people think that immigrants are here to mooch. They are here because their countries did not provided the opportunities we are blessed with in America. Americans are not worse off because immigrants are here. Certainly, there are cultural differences, but that is why America is known as the "great melting pot."

Regarding the learning of English- Immigrants just need to do it. It would be completely impossible for governments to put signs and forms in all the languages that immigrants speak. It would be ridiculous, and it certainly wouldn't help immigrants advance in society. It would only hold them back. In some ways, being an immigrant is a blessing because it (ideally) forces people to become bilingual, making them far more marketable than those of us who only speak one language.

So, what should the government do about illegal immigration? I'm not entirely sure. Of course, our borders need to be secure, but a giant fence isn't going to do that. Just ask France; they tried it after World War I. We certainly can't send everyone back. How on earth would we find all those people? And besides, there are a number of "illegal immigrants" who have been here since they were babies. Nobody should expect them to return to a country they are unfamiliar with because their parents brought them here illegally.

To decrease illegal immigration, we need to make legal immigration easier. People should be able to come over and work. More families should be given the opportunities to come so their children can receive adequate educations. The answer is in greater numbers of legal immigrants. I think some aspects of the new bill are great. Immigrants need to learn English. Immigrants need to have jobs. Immigrant children need to attend school. Immigrants need to obey the laws. If they can do these things, they'll be doing better than a lot of American citizens.


Greg_Cruey said...

Hi Sherry,

I appreciate the pat on the back...


Kristy said...

One thing, though: I don't think a lot of illegal immigrants get automatic withholding on their income taxes because I'm just thinking that their employers aren't going to advertise that they are hiring illegals by filing that paperwork. So I don't think most of them pay taxes. That being said, I actually agree with a lot of your sentiment. I just couldn't resist a little debate. Please, correct me if I'm wrong because I really want to know. What a great post!