Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Immigration: The Long View

Anyone interested in understanding the current immigration debate raging in our culture, in the U. S. Congress, and closer to home here in Dallas, ought to read Robert Draper's informative and extremely personal essay published recently in Texas Monthly ("Made in America," May 2007, pages 146ff or on the web at: http://www.texasmonthly.com/preview/2007-05-01/feature3).

Draper's essay is especially helpful in providing some historical perspective on immigration and our southern border.

Draper tells the story of Vicente Martinez, an undocumented Mexican laborer who crossed the border and ended up as one of the key hands and horse trainers who worked on the family ranch owned by his grandfather, none other than Houston attorney and former Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski.

Martinez came to the Jaworski's ranch at Wimberley, Texas in 1969, "long before 'illegal' was a dirty, demagogued word." Three years later Jaworski saw to it that Martinez's pregnant wife and three small sons were reunited with the hard-working husband and father on the ranch.

Draper's tale is moving, amusing, down-to-earth and personal. Thirty-five years after the family was reunited on the ranch, all are productive, legal residents of the U. S. The Martinez children, all three boys and their younger sister, are well-educated and successful, thanks to the determined sacrifice of their father and mother who came here for one reason and only one reason: to give their children a better life.

Draper's point is clear: the outcomes for millions of immigrants like the Martinez family are good for everyone--the immigrants and the nation. What was true thirty years ago, we should expect to be true today.

To his credit, Draper doesn't gloss over the injustice or the exploitation bound up in the American immigrant experience, especially for Mexican workers. One of the reasons why I find the current "conversation" about comprehensive immigration reform so ugly and disingenuous is its blatant hypocrisy. While there are a few voices in the current debate arguing on behalf of American labor, the fact is, with or without immigrant laborers, the weakened labor movement in the U. S. is of little concern to most people. Consumers want low prices. Period. Concerns for what labor may suffer to deliver the goods at the lowest price possible are minimal at best among most of us.

Undocumented immigrants have always worked for less than other American workers. It has been their sacrifice that has kept prices down for all the rest of us in industries we depend on and take advantage of thoughtlessly: housing, dining, service, landscaping, housekeeping, etc. I can understand the outcry of organized labor against the current system.

But, as I say, most opponents of reform are not labor activists! There is undoubtedly a racist undercurrent at work in much of the anti-immigrant sentiment we are hearing these days.

Draper makes it very clear that we are all implicated in the "illegalities" of the current situation, just as was the case with his grandfather. Turning all of the fury, the rhetoric and the animosity against the undocumented worker demonstrates the worst sort of our nation's hypocritical denial.

Draper's words need to be heard and remembered today:

"I have seen men who have done better, and so has Vicente. They were my grandfather's friends: lawyers, judges, newspaper publishers, oilmen. During hunting season, they would roll up to Circle J Ranch in their Cadillacs and Lincolns, driving on smoothly paved private country roads, past rows of immaculately carved heart-cedar-post fences--all the handiwork of Mexican migrant workers. A member of the Texas Rangers often showed up to my grandfather's ranch and casually observed the laborers at work. It's fair to say that the Ranger did nothing to discourage the activity, just as friendly immigration authorities had done Royce [the man who transported the family out of Mexico] the favor of turning the other way when he drove Vicente's family into America in 1972. The civic titans of Texas who visited my grandfather's ranch were aware of what was going on. Men like these saw to it that the border, and the laws governing it, would remain a joke.

"These men would shoot their hunting rifles all day long and then sit under the stars and drink while Vicente plucked the turkeys or skinned the deer. The men admired Vicente's old-world comportment. The keenness in his stare, the sureness of his grip. They comforted themselves with the belief that the Mexican seemed to find even lowly work ennobling, and they would tip him well. And the next morning they would go home to their mansions, whose lawns were tended by other uncomplaining Hispanic gentlemen, each of whom would probably be doing this type of work forever so that his children would not have to.

"That was the catch in Vicente's voice I was picking up on at his dinner table. He was not an idiot. A horse trainer, attuned to the elemental, he knew condescension when he saw it. And he knew that, though the opportunity here was far superior to the choices he faced in Mexico, he was not getting paid what a white man might. Both sides understood that this inequality--made possible by the transaction's unlawfulness--was key to the deal. Because of the cheap labor offered by migrants of modest yet unsinkable ambition like Vicente Martinez, men of means but not of obscene wealth could afford fine lawns, fine ranches, loyal domestic help. And a man like my grandfather could buy thirty broodmares and a stud, churn out foals, and then rely on a Mexican trainer horse whisperer to transform each unruly baby into a poised nine-month-old commodity. Hay, tack, barn equipment--the horse operation would ripple through the economy in a variety of ways, and no one would be hurt by it.

"Men like Vicente were the straws stirring the drink. Yet men are what they were--bored and lonely, with families down south. They had but one chip to play: I accept my lot if you will help me give my children a better one" (page 290).

The story is partly disgusting. The story is extremely sad. Mr. Martinez endured exploitive injustice and blatant racism at his work. At the same time, he exhibited the very qualities we champion as ideal in every corner of this nation: heroic, sacrificial, courageous, parental devotion.

I find it very difficult suddenly to regard Mexican immigrants, coming to this country seeking only a better life for their children, as the culprits in our current immigration chaos.

Hard-working folks willing to make sacrifices for their families--sorry, but that sounds an awful lot like the stuff of classic American mythology to me.
And, why focus such hostility and punishment on them now?

They come seeking what the generation before sought and the one before that.

Dismissing their contributions out of hand--current and historic--as insignificant and inconsequential, we now must appear to be arbitrarily changing the rules of a game we've all been playing for a long, long time.

We need to get real. We need to face the facts.

We need to get beyond the racism.

Most of all, we need to work together for a fair and just solution that will include the 12 million-plus undocumented workers and their families who are here today and, if we are wise, will be tomorrow.







.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning,
and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome;
her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"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!"

Randy Mayeux
Dallas

Larry James said...

The story is so powerful, isn't, Randy? Thanks for reminding us of what we dare not forget as a people.

chris said...

I don't want to close the border entirely but I think the process of LEGAL immigration should be fair and orderly. I resent being called a racist because I don't think America should be the worlds welfare provider, because I don't think the Mexican government should intentially send its uneducated people here who don't speak English to take advantage of the entitlements here. To oppose that is racist? I don't think so.
Before anything else is done about the 12-20 million people already here, the BORDER MUST BE SECURED. If it isn't, millions more will pour in the southern border and we will be in the same situation. It has happened twice in the last few years. The government seems to have no interest in securing the border. They have had years to do it. The Empire State building was built in 431 days so why can't the border be secured? Nobody believes what the government says anymore and why should we? We are not being told the truth about this bill. The truth is, the Democrats are looking for VOTES and POWER, they are not looking for the huddled masses longing to be free.

Anonymous said...

Chris, so why in the world would President Bush be working for the Democrats???

The truth is found in what Larry has posted. The US doesn't want to stop the influx due to the need for very cheap labor. Mexican immigrants make a contribution to your standard of living whether you want ot admit it or not.

The Mexican government is not sending anyone here. People are coming, often at great risk, to find a better life. Securing the border will be easier if we helped Mexico spread wealth in its own economy--which is what most workers do as they send their earnings back home.

Finally, securing a border against the hopes and dreams of real people is nothing like building a high-rise office building.

I am not sure you "get it."

Anonymous said...

So explain to me why people along the borders are so frightened if the immigrants are all hard working people that are just looking for a better life? Why is the border such a hotbed of Zetas and other killers and drug runners and why does the government refuse to secure the border? There has to be some restraint used to protect us and the immigrants. How many have died coming across with the coyotes? The problem with the bill is that it has not been well thought out with the concern being for people--both legal and illegal.

Anonymous said...

That was a great article in Texas Monthly.

Unfortunately, both sides can quote, use and misuse statistics of dubious validity, and both sides can tell anecdotal stories, either of success or failure, about immigrants. I have great sympathy for people who just want to better their lives, but I do worry about the US being the "world's welfare provider." With 3 billion people living on less than $2 a day, where does it stop? Not even the US can support them all. And is the only criteria for becoming legal going to be that you already broke US immigration laws? So most Asians and Africans are just SOL becuase it's harder for them to get here?

Personally, my interest in a bill, almost any reasonable bill, is that it's just SO obvious the current system is SO broken. Almost any effort to fix it seems better than what we have now.

Larry James said...

Anonymous 1:21 pm, funny, my post was not about any legislation--just a story that I believe accurately represents the sort of folks who come to the US from Mexico and tells why they come.

Please don't mix issues on us. Drug dealers and violent criminals on both sides of the border are a completely different issue.

I don't like the current bill in the Senate because it is too hard on immigrants and does not acknowledge the role we all have played in creating the situation that prompted them to come. We all share the blame for the current situation.

Secure the border, but do so more after the fashion of our norther border. Work with Mexico to improve conditions there. Create a reasonable guest worker program. Enroll everyone who is here without documents. Most of all, recognize the quality and the beauty of the people who come here from Mexico.

Jim said...

No amnesty for illegal immigrants!. I take great issue with James' statement "we all share the blame". This is blatantly not true. The blame is a federal government under either party control that has encouraged this illegal immigration for heavily lobbied reasons. The reasons have never been in the best interest of America, just some pressure groups with a lot of money to grease palms. I believe the USA would be in just fine shape today without this influx of illegals. The current "comprehensive immigration reform" bill is not reform at all; it is just a replay of the 1986 debacle except the number of lottery winners is musch higher. The borders will not be secure, illegals will continue to stream across the border, employers will continue to smile and accept obviously phony documents (even provide them if necessary) just so they can make more bucks. Nothing will change except we will have an automatic 12-20 million more entitled people. We will immediately need 12-20 million more illegals to do the work that these "now entitled" citizens are no longer willing to do for so little now that they are legal.
Jim

Anonymous said...

sorry, jim. larry's right. we've all benefited from the presence of immigrants who have provided cheap labor that has kept the price of all sorts of consumer goods, esp. food products, and services. the impact on the economy has been great. you can act like you have benefited if you want, but it doesn't change the facts of the matter. the current situation may not be good for u.s. labor, but i have this hunch that's not much of a concern for you anyway. could be wrong. we need reform and a legal way for so many to stay here. and, there is a racist feature to much of the reactions i'm reading both here and in other print and electronic media.

chris said...

I don't see that the bill is too hard on immigrants at all. The politicians only care about one thing-amnesty. Once the 12-20 million people get that, the government will work to kill the enforcement and border security measures. So, if you don't get border security first, you won't get it at all. Why do we think anything will be enforced when it never has been. The Mexican government is corrupt so there is little we can do about that. Our officials want open borders and they are banking on us to forget about it the next election. But I have news for them--we will not!
If this bill should pass get ready for a large influx of illegals crossing the border. As soon as it is signed they become legal if they were here before Jan.1, 2007. The ones who come after that will get forged documents. They do that easier than we breath. Then they can have anchor babies and bring there 22nd cousins in. There would be about 100 million new immigrants which would change the face of our country. Talk about poverty! The officials must think we are idiots. Thank you Jim, I was beginning to think I stood alone.

Larry James said...

Some of the comments here stand opposite of everything I believe about the nature of people and my own faith.

Again, while my post was not about the current legislative battle in Washington, I must say we haven't seen any final bill as yet. There is no reason to believe that a new system of documentation cannot be devised and employed that puts more responsibility on employers.

Beyond the political and legal aspects of this debate, my faith tells me that "strangers" should be welcomed and respected.

Xenophobia, unfortunately, has a long history in this country. Ironic, I'd say, since all of us, save the Native Americans whom we robbed, come from immigrant backgrounds. The sort of ideas expressed by Chris and others is exactly like those put forward in the past at times of high immigration--the Germans, the Irish, the Africans, the Chinese, etc. The U. S. has a long and contradictory history of welcoming and deploring our immigrant residents.

Whatever legislation is passed will not be perfect. But the immigrannts who come to this nation in the future, like those who've come in the past--including the 12 to 20 million from south of our borders who are here today--will help make it a greater and stronger society.

As Randy reminded us with the first post in this string, it is what our nation is all about.

The voices of fear and hatred are not new and will not go away. But, neither will voices of reason espousing the highest values of our nation and, thankfully, neither will the immigrants.

Anonymous said...

We're not talking about the legislation. I get that. I also I'm heartbroken and heavy from the story in Texas Monthly - I read it when I received my copy and reacted with sadness.

As another "anecdotal" story that shows it's not only about racism (and I know that's not what you're implying): we recently encountered a gentlemen here in Houston. He works an hourly job - well-above minimum wage, does quite well. He's originally from Mexico and legally immigrated here probably 20 years ago. Believe me, we said NOTHING about immigration, he just started talking about hard work. He was visibly angry and upset at the idea of granting amnesty to those who did not 'wait in line' like he did. He told us he did not come from money or privilege, but because of his faith, had been taught to obey all rules. So he followed all the "rules" and waited, etc. Now, he sees it as cheating and morally wrong to break the law and end up here.

I have no idea if I agree with him, but thought it was interesting to see someone from Mexico, hourly-worker, etc. who shows this isn't just about race or xenophobia.

qb said...

These "racism," "xenophobia" and "we're all guilty" charges are intrinsically polarizing and unworthy of a thoughtful people. Surely we can do better than that.

qb

Larry James said...

qb, thanks for your post.

I suppose that your point of view depends on who you are and how the current situation is affecting you and what forces you discern/feel/experience in the process. To face some hard facts about human nature and our society is not to be without the capacity for thought or honest conversation.

Politics & Culture said...

Labeling your opponents to advance your argument is political, and shows a desire to win rather than have honest conversation.

If you're in favor of enforcing immigration laws and securing the borders, you are racist and a xenophobe.

If you oppose the President or the war, you are an anti-American.

If you have the audacity to say that homosexual behavior is wrong, you are a homophobe.

If you oppose affirmative action because special preference should not be given to any race, you are a bigot.

If you believe abortion should be outlawed, you are anti-choice and anti-woman.

If you believe in lower taxes and free-market capitalism, you hate the poor.

That's not "honest conversation."

qb said...

"Point of view" is not a skirt that a Christian ought to hide behind in order to justify slanderous, overly generalized, patronizing speech toward anyone, including one's brothers and sisters. There is no getting around this central point: your speech lumps all of those who disagree with your political preferences into the "xenophobe" and "racist" camps. What evidence do you have that I am a xenophobe, other than that I disagree with your proposed, political solutions to some very real, complicated and consequential problems? But that's precisely what you have done with your polarizing language.

qb

qb said...

BTW, Larry, despite what your latest self-apologetics strongly imply about the context in which you frame your rhetoric, you are not at the mercy of these "forces you discern/feel/experience in the process" of your daily work. You are not helpless to overcome them; rather, you ought to master them, and then demonstrate that you have mastered them in the way you choose to characterize others' political leanings.

It is a simple matter of charity. We who have supported your gritty, noble CDM work in various ways over the years - admittedly by proxy and from a distance, with our youth groups, trying to expose them to people and circumstances otherwise unfamiliar to our children, hoping to plant a seed of practical compassion in their hearts - might be grateful for some minimal degree of rhetorical deference in this respect.

Furthermore, "having the capacity" for "[rational] thought or honest conversation" is not the same things as actually *exercising* that capacity.

qb

Larry James said...

qb and Politics and Culture, get a copy of the Texas Monthly, read the essay and then get back to me.

Maybe my older generation has been colored by a set of experiences that yours has not endured. If that is true, I am glad for you. All I know is how I see the poor, including the exploited, immigrant poor treated, and most recently in this debate. And I know what I hear from my larger community about the Hispanic/Latino working poor.

Let me hear your position on immigration and let me test your authenticity.

As to lumping and stereotyping around all the issues you list, Politics and Culture, it appears that I really hit your hot buttons. YI fail to see how your overreaching generalizations about such a long list of issues is relevant.

Anonymous said...

There are certainly heated words and strong positions on contrasting sides of this issue. But this is still the truth: American opened its doors and welcomed people in need in the past, and to do anything less in the present is a denial of our heritage. And when a country denies its heritage, it is in danger of losing its very soul.

In the Spielberg (executive producer) animated movie, An American Tail, there is this terrific lyric, sung by mice longing to be free: "There are no cats in America, and the streets are lined with cheese." People who show up within our borders are here because they look for the same opportunities that our ancestors sought. Why was it right for us to arrive here, and wrong for others to now seek what we sought?

There are dark chapters in our history. Like when the United Sates refused to accept an ocean liner full of Jewish people fleeing for their lives (the St. Louis, turned away from Miami, turned back to a certain Nazi death). Like now, when we have helped create a situation that has produced some 2 million displaced Iraqis, yet we have accepted only a few thousand.

I hope this current chapter will not be so dark.

There is only one solution to this "crisis." And that is for the economies of the countries around us to be as promising as ours is. Until that happens, people will continue to flood in.

Randy Mayeux
Dallas

Politics & Culture said...

Larry --

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be implying that those who are for enforcing immigration laws, against amnesty, and advocate secure borders are racists and xenophobes. How is that different from the other stereotypes I mentioned?

Such over-generalizations are usually wrong and do nothing to advance the discussion.

Larry James said...

Politics and Culture, okay, tell me what you thinkn about immigration. I'm listening. Tell me why you think it.

BTW--I encourage everyone to visit your site, Politics and Culture for amazing examples of generalizations and stereotyping of every political figure who disagrees with you! Amazing!

I especially liked your title, "Hillary the Socialist," where you claim that she said she was a socialist. Amazing--I'm looking at her speech and I don't find that.

Here is part of what she actually said:

"There is no greater force for economic growth than free markets. But markets work best with rules that promote our values, protect our workers and give all people a chance to succeed," she said. "Fairness doesn't just happen. It requires the right government policies."

Come on, Politics and Culture, surely we can do better than this?

Also, I loved how you called Edwards a hypocrite. Hmmmm.

Everyone needs to take a look.

BTW--I'm not backing Senator clinton and my argument on immigration lines up with that of our President.

Anonymous said...

BTW -- read and like the Texas Monthly essay.

Normally, I agree with at least the sentiment of your posts, if not the substance, too, Mr. James. But I have to say, I believe you missed or overlooked the point of the second-to-last comment politics/culture made. I believe he was showing how ineffective labels (on "both" sides of various "issues") are at advancing discussions. On the abortion issue, for example, neither "side" has made much, if any, progress because each has cast stones at the other,called names, and made it so political, no one will budge.

Likewise, calling immigrants "unlawful" and dismissing them as criminals or whatever is wrong. I also think labeling EVERYONE who wants secure borders as a xenophobe/racist is as equally unproductive. there is racism with this issue, but it's not all about that. I don't believe that's where this post started off, but it certainly seems to have taken that tone. Surely, that's not your intent, right?

Was the offer to test authenticity for what? Authentic as to Christian beliefs with respect to strangers? Authentic on one's political beliefs on immigration reform? what? I believe just like for years there was a danger of saying "you can't be [a democrat/liberal/prochoice] and be a Christian" there is now this temptation to say "you can't be [a republican/prolife/conservative] and be a true Christian". Again, I don't believe that's where you were going with the authentic comment, but curious what you did mean.

Thanks for your hard work and passion. I mean that sincerely.

Larry James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry James said...

Anonymous, thanks for your post.

You are correct. I didn't say that everyone who opposes comprehensive immigration reform is racist, etc.

This happens to me from time to time though.

I raise the issue of racism (I've noticed it is almost always this issue) and some folks shift the discussion to sound as if that was my main point or that I meant that everyone with a different point of view is racist, etc.

My point was that there is a racist element and that we need to face it. I also said we all share a part in the current chaos surrounding immigration reform.

Of course, if you can attack someone and claim that thye are only into meaningless and unhelpful generalizations that block meaningful conversation about a complex issue, then you can avoid telling everyone why you are against immigration reform.

When this happens, I almost always think to myself something like, "me thinks he protests too much."

And, I don't think that political party has anything to do with being or not being a Christian.

However, I do believe that much of the church of my heritage has failed to connect the dots about poverty, justice and related matters.

Again, thanks for your post.

Politics & Culture said...

Larry --

If you have an issue with something I posted on my blog, then go there and leave a comment. We can discuss it there. But thanks for sending some traffic my way! :-)

As to my feelings on the immigration debate, here is a column by Dr. Walter Williams that says it so much better than I can:

-------------
My sentiments on immigration are inscribed at the foot of the Statue of Liberty: ". . . 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."

These words of poet Emma Lazarus served as the welcome mat for tens of millions seeking liberty and opportunity in America -- legally. Being a relatively land-rich and labor-scarce nation, immigration has always been good for our country. Plus, for most of our history, there was a guarantee that immigrants would come here to work. The alternative was starvation.

With today's welfare state, there's no such guarantee. People can come here, not work and not starve because the welfare state guarantees that they can live off the rest of us.

At the heart of today's immigration problem is its illegality. According to several estimates, there are 11 million people who are in our country illegally, mostly from Mexico. Many people, including my libertarian friends and associates, advance an argument that differs little from saying that people anywhere in the world have a right to live in the United States irrespective of our laws or preferences.

According to that vision, American people do not have a right to set either the number of people who enter our country or the conditions upon which they enter. Some of the arguments and terms used in the immigration debate defy reason. First, there's the refusal to call these people "illegal aliens." The politically preferred term is "undocumented workers," which is nothing less than verbal sleight-of-hand. After all, I, too, am an undocumented worker.

My colleague, Thomas Sowell, exposes some of this verbal sleight-of-hand in his recent column "Guests or Gate-Crashers?" He questions calling for "guest worker" status for people who, because they weren't invited, are not guests at all but gate-crashers. Sowell argues that the more substantive arguments for flaunting our immigration laws are just as phony.

How about the argument that "We can't catch all the illegals"? That's true, but should we apply that principle to other illegal acts? For example, we can't catch every rapist or burglar, but does it follow that we shouldn't try?

The base motives for much of the political response to illegal aliens are fear of losing the Hispanic vote and pressure by employers who want to maintain a source of cheap labor. Politicians are calling for "guest worker" programs, but they're really calling for amnesty. They are fearful of actually using that term because they know it's political suicide, but the "guest worker" proposal is essentially the same as amnesty.

The word amnesty comes from the Greek "amnestia," defined in part as: "the selective overlooking or ignoring of those events or acts that are not favorable or useful to one's purpose or position." That's what the proposed guest worker program essentially says: forget that you're here illegally.

In principle, the solution to people being in our country illegally is simple. No one in the country illegally should be eligible to receive any social services except emergency medical services. Efforts should be made to deport illegal aliens. Our borders should be made secure both against illegal entry of persons and potential threats to national security.

Finally, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services procedures for obtaining work permits and citizenship should be streamlined so that law-abiding people around the world can more easily contribute to and enjoy America's greatness.
-------------------
By Dr. Walter E. Williams
Professor of Economics
George Mason University

Larry James said...

Politics and Culture, do you know any immigrants from Mexico?

Larry James said...

Oh, and one more thing, you posts on your blog betray your own approach to objectivity that I feel everyone should experience and "appreciate" in its own right. Thus, my pointing others to your site.

As far as me commenting there, I don't have anything to say, as everything you write there speaks for itself and needs no commentary.

qb said...

Larry, you make a strafing run at those of us who don't agree with your political positions and call us racists and xenophobes, and then you crawfish and say, "well, that wasn't my main point."

OK. You've asked for my position on illegal immigrants, and here it is.

1. If you cross the border under cover of darkness to avoid the established process by which people are legally required to enter the United States, you are here in contravention of our laws. That means you are an illegal immigrant, not merely an "undocumented worker." Euphemisms are unimpressive.

2. Our federal government has obviously not budgeted enough to process the flood of applicants for legal immigrant status; nor has that government created a guest worker program that would accommodate the number of hard-working aliens who would be willing to come to the United States legally (if they could) in order to work in jobs we don't want to do, apparently.

Let's start with those two things and see if we're anywhere close to the reality of the situation.

Xenophobically,

qb

qb said...

BTW, Larry, I doubt seriously that you are of a vastly different generation from me. I'm 42. Do my posts suggest that I'm still in my 20s? If so, how?

qb

Larry James said...

qb, I don't think you will find that I ever said I thought that everyone was racist or that I felt that was the only problem. Again, coming out of the Texas Monthly article, there was a heavy backdrop of that sentiment as cultural reality.

Cheap labor that benefits the US and its corporations/businesses and all of us as consumers is what we are talking about here. There is benefit to both due to the unlawfulness that keeps wages artificially depressed due to the "under cover" nature of the labor force. I am just saying we can't blame the immigrants only--as a matter of fact, they are the least guilty in the entire system, in my opinion. Reform is needed that offers a legitimate, protected status to immigrant labor. That is decent, fair and right. And, yes, part of the issue remains racial.

I am 57.

ak said...

I agree with Larry's discussion of the article, which I have not yet read but will. All debate issues aside, there are some thimgs that are not mentioned. 1) There currently is no legal process for unskilled people to be in this country unless they are related to a citizen, and even then it takes years. 2)USCIS as it is now is broken, underfunded and understaffed and really does not care about human beings. 3) The new immigration fees that go into effect at the end of July are significantly higher and will place greater stress on an already flawed process. PS. new immigrants, legal or otherwise, on the whole have greatly enriched our country and each wave has faced similar hysteria.