This post arrives to you as my summer truly begins, with quite a bit of free time to go with it. As such, my postings are likely to get longer and more detailed, just as some of my readers have asked for. Today, I will take on the issue of illegal immigration to America, a contentious and racially charged debate which has been going on for years now, yet which I haven’t got around to until now. There are two big concerns here: the economic and social implications of new hispanic immigrants from our southern border. I will explain my thoughts on both, and hopefully change a few minds in the process, or at the very least open a few to new ideas.
Let’s start with the social contingencies of illegal immigration to America. These United States were founded by “illegal” European immigrants centuries ago, and for a large portion of our history immigration (and immigrants) have been a touchy issue. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII, we’ve never been particularly trustful or happy around people of different skin colors or nationalities. And in the past, most of our fears and hatred were based around nothing real; the former act was passed because apparently the Chinese were to blame for digging up too much gold in California for lower wages. Too bad it was actually because we had simply dug up the gold together (gold is finite, after all). And during WWII, we only locked up the Japanese citizens out of pure fear; no logic or reasoning backed us up, even though the Supreme Court somehow ruled our actions constitutional in 1942 (http://www.momomedia.com/CLPEF/history.html). And just as history famously repeats itself, we are doing the same thing today with Hispanics. In a society whose economy is based upon greed, we really shouldn’t be surprised by this at all.
Hatred and racism are dominating parts of culture in significant portions of the U.S. territory. Just as the south was the bastion for anti-Black hatred during the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, the south has now taken up the fight against immigrant Latinos. But, in a move somewhat unlike the past, the Midwestern states have also taken up the same fight with surprising heft. While some of these states are fair-weather friends to the movement (Wisconsin, Ohio, etc.), most of them are die-hard attached to it. And whether we are willing to admit it or not, racism is a big part of why this issue exists. We still are a majority white nation (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html), and despite reports that minority babies will soon outnumber white babies the fact of the matter is that we will stay a majority white nation for years to come. Since our democracy is based on majority rule, it seems only fitting that we would want to exclude and turn against those not in said majority, in this case the ethnic white one. But is it right or justified to fight against those of Hispanic descent? The answer is a resounding no.
This is especially true when considering the extremes of this conservative argument, like the example of an electric fence on the border. This idea has been proposed by top-ranking conservatives in the past and endorsed by Republican candidates as well (http://www.newser.com/story/131206/cain-i-was-joking-about-killer-electric-border-fence.html). Sure, running across the border is illegal, yes. But illegal enough that each and every one of these immigrants and their children deserve instant death without trial? Not so much. The fence itself is overkill; former candidate Herman Cain wanted it to be 20 feet tall, with active guns and barbed wire along with the electricity. Do you see the idiocy in this? If the fence will kill on contact, why spend millions making it 14 feet higher than it would need to be? Why mount guns on it if touching the fence will zap you to death anyway? Why put barbed wire on top if no person will be able to climb it in the first place? The scale of reaction to immigrants here is an indication of more than just political motivation towards an issue; it is a showing of intolerance, to the point where sheer anger inspires policy rather than facts. We must realize that immigrants of all races, languages, nationalities, and cultures are always an enriching factor to a society which has not true culture of its own, other than eating lots of fried foods.
And now, the economic aspect of my argument. A common theme among those trying to curb/eliminate illegal immigration is the belief that “Mexicans are stealing our jobs”. First things first, a job is not stolen. It is earned. If an employer hires an illegal immigrant, it is their choice to do so, and therefore it is the fault of employers that we have a problem with immigrants taking jobs. If employers turned down immigrants more willingly, this debate would not be so easy to bring up. Second, a lot of the jobs that illegal immigrants take are those of menial labor with relatively low pay; I know for a fact that most American citizens are likely too lazy to take on these jobs anyway. It is far better to get a job done by illegal immigrants than have it not done at all. Our country has problems and things that need to get done, and we shouldn’t be so stringent about who helps us get those things done. Third, if immigrants are taking jobs from Americans, it would stand to reason that the jobless rate among Hispanics would be more steady than that of whites. The opposite is true, with Hispanics and other minorities being hit hardest by our recession, while whites have stayed a little healthier on the job market (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/us/26hispanics.html). And yet with all this, we still blame those of Latino descent for our national concerns.
One last thing I feel I should address, is the effect Hispanics have on our educational system. Many have decried the influx of immigrants for lowering our standards and national averages on tests. However, education in America is very decentralized, with each state and district holding somewhat different standards. It is the job of each school system to provide a quality education, and I am sure nobody would dispute this. However, because of this decentralization there are portions of the United States with far better standards and averages than others. A good marker of the educational rates in a region is a presence of top-tier colleges. States with stronger education can generally afford better universities and can provide better quality learning for students. However, the majority of immigrants coming to this nation aren’t flying in, so they end up, for the most part, in California or Texas. And while California has an excellent education system, Texas has been certainly been lacking in the past years. I can name but one excellent college in Texas, in this case Rice University. I can name several in California, and said state wasn’t one to attempt putting creationism in textbooks. If we want immigrants to truly work to our benefit, they must receive a good education in order to get the jobs that make our economy strong and innovative. It’s time we made sure that everyone gets a quality education, rather than excluding some because they may not have been born here. Mexico is an ally to us, and we should treat their people as such.
That is all for this week, and I hope I have made an understandable and thought-provoking argument. Questions and comments may be posted here directly, and anonymously if you prefer to do so that way. My Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts are always open, and my email at firstname.lastname@example.org will be frequently checked if you would like to communicate with me through it. A happy summer to all, a happy (and belated) Russia Day to my readers from the motherland, and I am signing off.