My Thoughts On Immigration, Circa 2007

My thoughts in 2007:
It’s about more than supply and demand. There’s a great deal of random disparity in the current system that is not only at odds with the current rule of law, but it grants legal status to certain nationalities at a much higher rate than others who come from arguably worse economic conditions. At the top of the totem pole are Cubans. The lowest; Haitians, perhaps. I think that in itself is bullshit, but I can’t fault Cubans for being so politically well organized. In any case, my feelings about illegal immigration are fairly solid.

My thoughts today:

I believe, wholeheartedly, that immigration reform is desperately needed. We’ve relied on Washington to get the job done and they’ve failed repeatedly. The last ditch attempt was made just 3 years ago in 2007 when a immigration reform bill went before congress for debate. After going around and around, there was no satisfaction or any resolution and the immigration bill was killed. The fact remains that the debate needs to be revived.

It seems that lately people need to be reminded that there is nothing patriotic about discrimination of anyone based on the color of their skin. I’d like to believe that when the constitution was established, it was done so with a firm belief that a much broader scope would need to be extended and revised over time. That’s why even now the constitution includes laws that govern the way we deal with immigration. 

We must also remember that equal protection under constitutional law was not immediate for all Americans way back when. It was only implied for some, namely white men and land owners, in particular. Just imagine what life was like for a former slave after the Civil War during reconstruction.

Black people had to deal with an uncertain future and political status in a country that had treated them cruelly for decades. Remember the infamous Dred Scott decision that basically ruled that any person who was not white was not a citizen of the United States and thus had no federal rights or protections under the law.

After the war the issue turned to the political status and future of blacks. It was then that Republicans were the radical, liberal party of the day. They are now called Democrats. They presented the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to congress which was in response to the racist Black Codes; laws that severely limited and denied civil rights and civil liberties to blacks. 

Where the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to all blacks in America. It guaranteed citizenship to all children born in the U.S. That’s where the fruits of slave labor come into play in modern day 21st century America with regard to illegal immigrants and American born children.

This war on illegal immigration is as bad as the war on drugs and the tug of war on terror. Like everything else, we try to cut off the supply, yet do practically nothing about eliminating the demand. Illegal immigration is akin to modern day slavery and as well know, cheap labor always comes with hidden costs. One of the benefits we all enjoy is the low cost of fruits and vegetables at the market.

It’s ironic in a way. In order to keep prices low, migrant workers are paid low wages to pick fruit and vegetables. If the prices are too high, companies will import fruits and vegetables from other countries where food regulations may be lower or not as enforced. The labor trade off can be potentially toxic.

What I also don’t understand is why some people are so anti-immigrant when they are more than likely 1st or 2nd generation Americans themselves. I’m certainly not saying it was easier to immigrate back then, but I am saying that we need a more liberal guest worker policy now.

The current system is broken and unfair. It doesn’t focus enough on family unification. To add insult to injury, illegal felons and criminals cost US tax payers more money yet the government deports more illegal immigrants without criminal records than those with them. 

Not only does our government need to work with the Mexican government on securing their borders and dong their part on the other side, politicians need to stop playing racial politics. Millions of immigrants are here to stay regardless of their status. Racial profiling is not going to stop it, but it is likely to incite protest and raise awareness about the serious need for reform. The recently passed Arizona law, which isn’t explicit, does imply that race be used to determine whether there is reason to question ones citizenship status.

This practice undermines everything we stand for in this country including the quest for a good life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. No matter where we live, we all have our own unique existence that we have no choice but to share with others. I’ve always been a fan of diversity, which must often be placed where it is not wanted in order to enact change for the better.

Playing racial politics threatens all of us at its core. It also works against the very idea of taking a humanistic and realistic approach to immigration reform. History will not allow us to take any other course.

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