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Friday, January 25, 2008

Finally, a GOP Politician Who Is an Actual Immigrant Talks Actual Sense About Immigration

posted by on January 25 at 13:46 PM

The loose, rough, and stupid talk the R candidates have been mouthing about immigration is starting to get to me. Walls, mass expulsions, wasting grazillions of dollars on more enforcement and tougher laws—it’s dumb and dangerous.

Story number one:

TULSA, OKLA. - Edgar Castorena had diarrhea for 10 days and counting, and the illegal immigrant parents of the 2-month-old didn’t know what to do about it.

They were afraid they would be deported under a new Oklahoma law if they took him to a major hospital. By the time they took him to a clinic, it was too late.

Object lesson: Immigrants aren’t the problem—it’s not integrating immigrants into the system that’s the problem. Want them to pay taxes? Want them to send their kids to schools? Want them to take their kids to hospitals when they’re sick? Then let ‘em.

Story number two:

Savvy criminals are using some of the country’s most credible logos, including FedEx, Wal-Mart, DirecTV and the U.S. Border Patrol, to create fake trucks to smuggle drugs, money and illegal aliens across the border, according to a report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The report says criminals have been able to easily obtain the necessary vinyl logo markings and signs for $6,000 or less. Authorities say “cosmetically cloned commercial vehicles are not illegal.”

Object lesson: You cannot restrict the flow of money, good, and people with laws, where there’s a will there’s a way, etc. For another example, see Egypt, circa now. (And remember when the falling American dollar achieved, almost literally overnight, what all the might of the federal government couldn’t—retarding the pot trade with Canada?)

So it’s gratifying to hear an actual GOP immigrant-politician with a national profile and presidential aspirations say something not-asinine about immigration:

With the California primary approaching on Feb. 5, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has advice for Republican presidential hopefuls who intend to come to the Golden State and exploit the immigration issue: Don’t.

“Those people didn’t choose (to come illegally),” he said. “It’s the only way they can get in here. It’s not like you can stand in line and wait a few days and then you can get in. There’s no way. There is a system that has been created on purpose to look the other way and to bring them in because everyone knows that we cannot function without them.”

RSS icon Comments


Sorry, Dude. That's easy for you to say - you don't live in a place where it's 60% Mexican. And 50% of those are illegal.
Build the wall. Send them back where they came from.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | January 25, 2008 2:14 PM

I hate to get all autobiographical, but you started it. First, I have lived in a place that was majority immigrant—Brownsville, Texas, which is a lot Latin American and a little Vietnamese and Filipino. What's more, I've been an illegal immigrant and not-gone to the hospital when I should've (for some stitches, it was fine) because I was worried about being deported. (Admittedly, in Spain, which is a pretty cush place to be an illegal American. But still—it happened.)

So you tell me: What's the big problem with the illegals? And what problem do you have that couldn't be solved by letting them become legal?

Posted by Brendan Kiley | January 25, 2008 2:19 PM

Beats me, you all are illegal immigrants anyway, as my great-grandmother used to say (Native American).

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 25, 2008 2:38 PM

Damn it, I hate when he says stuff that makes me like him.

Posted by monkey | January 25, 2008 2:44 PM

So, Brendan, can I move to Canada, get a job, and just become a Canadian citizen because I want to live in Canada?


Can I do that in Great Britain?


Can I do it in France?

Hell no.

Can I do it in Israel?


Can I do it in Japan?

Double ha!

Basically, no industrialized country in the world allows people to just move there and set up house. The United States is the only country that even pretends to have a debate about it, and that's because, as Schwarzenegger said, we need them. But if we legalized their presence, they wouldn't serve the same purpose. We'd have to pay more for their labor. So any kind of amnesty program doesn't actually fix the need that these people are filling and, if they're not filling that need, there's no reason to let them stay here.

The "social justice" spin you're selling is totally irrelevant to the actual problem.

Posted by Judah | January 25, 2008 2:52 PM

@1 - They're going to keep coming back as long as someone is willing to hire them for inexpensive labor.

A giant wall is a stupid, silly gesture that will cost way too much money and not solve the problem. A wall won't fix the system, which is what's broken. The Governator is right that the system is built to turn a blind eye to illegal entry.

I'm happy to say that all of my Mexican family living in this country was is in the country legally, and I don't think that illegal immigration should go unchecked. BUT, the problem is the lack of a comprehensive system to facilitate seasonal workers and government's leniency toward businesses that continue to hire large numbers of illegals. Mass deportations and a giant wall won't solve those problems.

Seriously man, it's just a bunch of poor brown people...why are you so threatened?

Posted by Hernandez | January 25, 2008 2:55 PM

52-80: I am from Nogales, Arizona and moved to Seattle this year.

Why is it so hard for you to live in a place where 60% of the population is of Mexican descent (and, as you claim with such certainty, 50% illegal migrants)?

I lived there for twenty-some years. Crime? No more than you'd see anywhere else with a lot of poor people about. Drug use was worse in the whitish, Border-Patrol-filled suburbs than in the city. The only people who want to "send 'em back" or "build a wall" in places like that are xenophobic or just plain afraid of what they don't understand.

Why should you have to adapt, after all? The 60% majority of your community should be like you-- or go away!

Posted by Vanessa | January 25, 2008 2:57 PM

This, after he defeated Adrianna Huffington after a scandal over her once having an illegal immigrant maid?

Posted by K | January 25, 2008 3:04 PM

Actually, if I remember western euro politics correctly, Italy has granted amnesty multiple times. Not an example of a thriving state, but it is definitely an industrialized country in the world.

Posted by Megan W | January 25, 2008 3:04 PM

Somebody answer the questions. I want to know what the answers are:

What's the big problem with the illegals? And what problem do you have that couldn't be solved by letting them become legal?

Posted by elenchos | January 25, 2008 3:05 PM

@5... yes, but will any of those countries deny you healthcare if you are not a citizen? No. Deport you if you take your child in for medical help if you (or they) are not a citizen? No. Allow the police to check your status while responding to a call about domestic violence? No. Do any of them have as snarled and difficult immigration policy based on such a racist/classist agenda as ours? Well close, maybe, but not quite.

Get rid of NAFTA, give back the land we STOLE from Mexico, give the Native people back the land we stole from them, the ancestors we killed or forced to assimilate and un-break all the treaties we've broken and THEN come back and complain about illegal immigration, build the wall, etc.

No one would want to come here if they could stay in their own country and get paid an honest wage for an honest days work, but 3 dollars a day sewing your shiny Nikes is not going to cut it.

Posted by SDizzle | January 25, 2008 3:06 PM

they'll have to change the law before arnold can have any aspirations

Posted by Jiberish | January 25, 2008 3:40 PM

@5 - Spain also has an amnesty program. There are large numbers of immigrants entering the country from North Africa. Rather than build a wall along the Mediterranean coast, the Spanish government is offering a path for citizenship for illegal immigrants.

They realize the obvious. Marginalizing these people and denying them services makes the problem worse, not better.

Posted by Mahtli69 | January 25, 2008 3:40 PM

Q:Is Mexico and Central America such a cess pool that they flee by the millions? A:Jes

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | January 25, 2008 3:46 PM

Also RE the Wall. When the current wall between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico was built, it was touted as a great achievement in slowing/stopping illegal immigration because it reduced the flow of people through San Diego. What people who like to talk about how great walls are DONT mention however is that it didn't actually change the number, it just moved the path most people take over into the Colorado mountains. People will always find ways around/under/over walls, it's just a bandaid to the larger issue.

Posted by SDizzle | January 25, 2008 3:52 PM

I hope that all of you get your wish and have that wall built. Then will you quit your whining? No! you will whine even more after you squeeze your fat lazy asses out of your homes and see that there has not been any landscaping done. Then you will waddle over to the store and find out that produce costs more. The problem with most Americans is that you whine no matter what. If you don't like immigrants, then do all of the work yourself. I want to open my curtain tomorrow and see five fat white guys doing the landscaping. Then when they are done working I am going to complain about them and say "why can't we just send them back to poland or ireland and keep them out." I doubt that this will ever happen. So, we need immigrants from MExico

Posted by ___ | January 25, 2008 4:00 PM

Besides the obvious economic advantage of having a ready, inexhaustible pool of cheap, desperate labor, there's another reason why the border remains porous, a reason most people choose to ignore, or are unaware of.

It's in the interests of the United States that Mexico not suffer violent socialist revolution. But the economic inequalities there are so utterly, unspeakably horrendous - so much money concentrated in so few hands, poverty we can scarcely even imagine - that without the safety valve of illegal US employment, the poorest in Mexico would have fomented a revolution long since.

The global multinationals who really run everything know that. So long as Mexico's economic system remains so drastically stratified, the border will remain porous. This is not an accident. This is not an oversight.

The best way to stem illegal immigration from our southern border is to help Mexico move toward a more equitable system of economic redistribution. But that form of economic imperialism rarely works the way one hopes. All we'd do, with our maladroit abilities in that regard, is exacerbate the situation, and probably bring about that very revolution.

Posted by Geni | January 25, 2008 4:20 PM

People come here because there's demand for their labor. The law attempts to make it impossible for them to fill that demand legally, but the end-result is perverse: that very attempt to make labor illegal makes it easier for employers to hire people illegally and use the threat of deportation to get away with it.

What we should do instead is let anyone with ID and no criminal record enter the country on a short-term travel visa--something like 60 days. Then let them convert that to a work visa if they can verify employment. If they lose their job, they're simply demoted to a 60-day travel visa, giving them time to seek a new job, fix any paperwork errors, or leave the country. So long as someone is working, they should be able to stay and get full employment rights along with everyone else. As soon as there's no legal way to hire immigrants at below-minimum wage, there's no incentive to hire undocumented workers to screw over citizens. This also means that immigrants aren't pressured to stay with a single employer. They could also seek a green card if they wanted more long-term employment and better documentation.

Problem solved, except for the bigots who just plain don't like immigrants, legal or otherwise.

Posted by Cascadian | January 25, 2008 4:22 PM

I would rather they do nothing. By having illegal immigrants. We have a lovely underclass that is below the radar of social welfare, programs etc. etc. They can live and function way way way below any poverty level we can imagine. And the sick thing is .... we let this happen.

There are plenty of laws on the books that make illegal immigrants well, illegal. Illegal to hire, illegal to pay, illegal to house, yet we don't enforce them because our society looked away for too long and now we are dependent on them.

So all you of you disenfranchised whities who hate living in minority dominated communities. We hate listening to you whine just as much as you hate your living neighborhoods. And you republican hyprocrits who appreciate everything about free market economics EXCEPT when it affects your nationalism. Do you want your cake and eat it to?

Posted by OR Matt | January 25, 2008 4:24 PM

@5 - "So, Brendan, can I move to Canada, get a job, and just become a Canadian citizen because I want to live in Canada?"

Actually, many people do that.

Is it legal? Of course not.

But there are far more illegal Canadians in the US and illegal Americans in Canada than you realize.

Luckily for me, I'm a dual citizen.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 25, 2008 5:31 PM

The solution's actually pretty simple: bring the hammer down on *employers*. Hard. There's a lot fewer of them, they're easier to find and it's a lot more practical than deporting several million people or recreating the Iron Curtain.

Dry up the job supply and illegal immigrants stop coming here and/or move back. Then maybe they'll have an incentive to improve things back home.

Treat the actual people with dignity.

Posted by ru shur | January 25, 2008 5:47 PM

Um, I guess some people have never been to CA (and don't want to eat)? I can't believe I would ever defend my idiot of a governor, but obviously he knows that CA does depend on immigrants. A lot of the people in the fields I drive by every day are illegal immigrants & without them, people all over this country would be hurting for produce.

Posted by Megan | January 25, 2008 6:12 PM

My Governator occasionally says something that makes sense, and this is one of those times. Few people now remember the era of the braceros, illegal immigrant farm laborers who were found to be so necessary to the production of food in this country that an actual path to (gasp) legal residency, and eventual citizenship, was created for them in the 1950s. People are far too fond of bitching and moaning about illegals stealing the jobs out of upright citizens' hands, and far too blind to the fact that immigrants, whether legal or illegal, always do the jobs no one else wants to do. The janitors in your office building, the stoop labor harvesting your fields, the guys carrying sacks of cement in the housing tract where you want to move -- immigrants. Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't the first to say that honest labor is a worthy calling, but it's worth remembering that he did say it, and he didn't separate the brown people from the black people from the yellow people who were doing it. Instead of demonizing immigrants we should be making it possible for them to realize the American dream the same way our own immigrant ancestors did -- by arriving penniless and working their butts off and contributing to the good of the community and of the country.

Posted by CalPete | January 25, 2008 9:31 PM

Excellent post, Brendan.

Posted by Donovan | January 25, 2008 10:40 PM

You realize that the harder you make it to cross the border, the more permanent illegal immigrants we will have, don't you?

Migrant workers have been crossing the border since long before it WAS a border. Traditionally, Mexicans crossed into the US and back, over and over. It's how their economy AND OUR ECONOMY developed. But when it's incredibly difficult and life-threatening, they tend to stay forever; no one wants to do that again. So they stay, and the secret infrastructure of permanent immigration will always outstrip our ability (or desire to prevent it.

Our economy would collapse without Mexican immigration.

And lastly, permanent Mexican immigration has been a terrific boon to the US. Mexicans work harder than Americans, and make our lives easier; and they culturally enrich us in a way that is absolutely vital to American life. American culture is founded on the importation of new blood; and without it, we die.

Posted by Fnarf | January 26, 2008 11:24 AM

Megan @ 22

Um, I guess some people have never been to CA (and don't want to eat)? I can't believe I would ever defend my idiot of a governor, but obviously he knows that CA does depend on immigrants. A lot of the people in the fields I drive by every day are illegal immigrants & without them, people all over this country would be hurting for produce.

Wow, I can just imagine white southerners, ca. 1858 saying something similar in response to the abolitionists. "Ah guess that some people have nevah been to Alabama (and don't want to wear cotton clotihin). We gots to have slaves, pickin cotton sucks, white man ain't gonna work in chains in the hot sun all day with a whip crackin over him if'n he slows down. Nope, we've got to have slave labor. A lot of the people in the fields I ride by every day are slaves & without them people all over this country woudn't have tobacco, and cotton, and sorghum and grits. Slavery's vital to our economy and way of life!"

Posted by wile_e_quixote | January 26, 2008 11:45 AM

@ 11 - Germany and especially Japan have immigration/citizenship standards more racist than the United States.

Posted by UnoriginalAndrew | January 26, 2008 12:36 PM

@25 check out Operation Wetback aka the time Eisenhower got rid of 1000000 illegals and there were exactly no economic repercussions

Posted by hazel zone | January 26, 2008 2:08 PM

@26 ... sad but true. One of the many modern versions of "slavery" that modern life is now additcted to.

Posted by OR Matt | January 29, 2008 9:36 AM

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