Monday, May 01, 2006

Uno de Mayo

Today is the day when a large number of immigrants are supposed to:
  • not show up for work, or
  • not buy anything, or
  • both.
I am slightly bothered by this. First, they're trying to mingle illegal and legal immigration. Second, they're ignoring the problem of unemployment or underemployment in this country. Third, they're ignoring the plight of illegal immigrants. And finally, they are ignoring the national security issues with our borders.
Disclosure #1:Some of my own ancestors came to this country without the permission of the host government. That was in the 1650's and the Powhantan Nation had quite a bit of trouble with the illegal immigrants in what is now called Virginia.
We also need to get one thing straight: the US is a country of immigrants, and a lot of them arrived without proper permission beforehand (some even without their own permission). These immigrants have contributed greatly to this country, and immigration is still beneficial to the US.

But ...

We clearly cannot take in all of the poor of the world. We ain't that rich and we don't have that much land. So there have to be some limits. Once you have limits you have the issue of illegal immigrants and what to do with them. If you just keep saying, "Oh, well. I guess you can stay" then you basically have no limits.

Then, of course, we have a lot of unemployed and underemployed Americans. Even though the official unemployment rate is very low (less than 5%), it is believed by economists that a lot of people who would like to work have given up. These people are not counted as unemployed. The changing economy has also moved a lot of good paying jobs to lower wage countries and forced millions of people to find lower paying jobs.

Even highly educated people, like engineers are finding themselves in new fields because they can't find jobs. Of course, that doesn't keep Gates and Co. from pushing for more visas for foreign engineers. Hey, it's just business!

But even at the lower end, Hurricane Katrina gave us many examples of Americans who rushed to work in the cleanup effort, only to get fired when the illegals arrived (many brand spanking new to the country) to work for less pay, no benefits, and willing to tolerate absolute squalor.

Which leads me to the treatment of illegals. Illegal immigrants are exploited by American business. They are paid less, they get no benefits, and they work in dangerous conditions -- all because they can't complain. They are also victims of more crime because they are afraid to call the police.

And then there is the issue of those newly manufactured kewler bombs and other weapons of terrorism.
Aside #238: Why are we so obsessed with new kewler bombs? Are the old ones less dangerous in some way? Or are they so big and cumbersome that we don't think they could be smuggled in?
Some are calling for a fence along the border with Mexico. Opponents like to show pictures of chain link fences (some quite tall) and how easily they are penetrated. Funny, but no one seems to show fences like the one the Israelis are building.

Of course, a wall isn't the final answer. We'd have to build one across Canada as well, for one thing. And we'd have to monitor it closely enough to stop people from climbing it. And we'd have to do something to secure the coastline. And we'd have to monitor border crossings, airports, and shipping more closely. But I reject the idea that we can't do any of these things simply because we cannot do all of them currently or perfectly. We need to try harder to keep out those who wish to do us harm and the tools they would like to use. And we can't do that if we don't have better control of who is coming in.

Right now, the tremendous bulk of illegal immigration comes across our Mexican border. Given the poverty of those who cross, it makes sense that making that crossing more difficult will price it out of range for at least some. It also pushes more illegal immigrants and imports to ports and crossings where we might have a better chance of catching it. Or maybe we will in the future.
Disclosure #2: I'm glad that the immigrant who cleans my house every other week showed up for work today, though I wouldn't have fired her if she didn't. She's here legally and we believe that we pay her about the same as other legal immigrants in this line of work (we used to have a caucasian doing this job, and she made about the same money).
In response to today's protests, I propose that all persons legally in the country boycott the upcoming Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

1 comment:

Gene Bob said...

Well, today's Cuatro de Mayo (celebrated more here than in Nicaragua) and I, for one, am going to celebrate by attending a discussion about "Backup & Recovery of SANs using Virtual Tape Libraries".

It seems only fitting.