Monday, June 18, 2007

Immigration Bullshit


I have a confession to make: we rent to an illegal alien. She is college educated, has a full time job, has brothers and sisters who all have immigration visas, but she is not permitted to work in the United States. She lives in constant fear of discovery and deportation.

Some would say she should be deported, because others are waiting their turn in line. Here's the rub: she's been waiting in line for ten years.

Ten. Years.

For some, all they need to know about the issue of illegal immigration is that it's ILLEGAL. They broke the law... send 'em back and build a bigger fence.

For me, I learned a critical life lesson about illegal immigration when, during my financial catastrophe after 9/11, I ended up cleaning grocery stores at night so that I could have some money coming in while I looked for work during the day. I ended up taking the job from an illegal immigrant who lost his job when the INS stung the cleaning service.

There I was, a father and husband taking a (frankly, humiliating) job because my family was relying on me to provide. The only difference between me and the Mexican whose job I took was that I, by accident of birth, was in a country that had more opportunity and laws on the books that gave me preferential treatment.

If the accident of fate was that I was born in Mexico, I can promise you that if I had the guts you can bet your ass I would jump the border if it meant a better life for my family. So I can understand why they come, and it's hard for me to blame them.

But that's not the point of this post, which is to call Bullshit on a key argument of the anti-immigrationists. There effectively is no line for your average Central American to stand in. As Jeff Jacoby points out in an excellent essay in The Boston Globe:
Illegal immigrants don't steal across the Mexican border because they lack the patience to wait their turn in line. They do it because there is no line for them to wait in.

The great majority of immigrants who enter the United States lawfully qualify for visas because of family ties: They are lucky enough to be related to a US citizen. For them, there is indeed a line -- the waiting time for a family-based visa can take upward of 10 years. A smaller number of legal immigrants are granted visas because they have advanced degrees or specialized skills and a job is waiting for them.

For most illegal immigrants, a legal option simply doesn't exist. Under current law, a young Mexican or Salvadoran who wants to improve his life by moving to America and working hard at a useful job generally has just two options: (a) Enter illegally, or (b) stay out forever. Several hundred thousand a year choose option (a).

And so would I. There are men who read this blog who I know would be so committed to their families that they would do the same.

While the immigration issue is admittedly complex, we could do without the nonsense that illegal immigrants are just impatient line-jumpers. They are human beings who are trying to find a better life for themselves and have few other options than to disobey our immigration laws. At least give them that.

1 Comments:

At 9:25 AM, Blogger ninjanun said...

Think about it, America!

 

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