"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Sit Down, Classism

By this time tomorrow you'll have to deny that we ever met. I have gone and written a shocking thing about immigration in tomorrow's American Spectator.

Better to give references than samples, but if you insist here's an ort:

Chuckles aside, the immigration debate seems to have hardened into two fairly describable positions. The first is espoused by the President and others of both parties. It maintains that all those illegal immigrants are here to help us by doing the work "that American simply will not do." Their lack of proper paperwork is a technicality that it would be churlish of us to mention while munching on the yummy grapes that they so graciously picked.

The second view, held by most of the population and given eloquent expression by various talk show hosts and callers, argues that the first courtesy owed a host is the knock on the door. Unless the immigration laws are strikingly draconian, and absent a flight from genocide or tyrannical oppression, they should be obeyed, if only as a rite of passage. As to the claim that Americans will not do the same work, that's hardly a sufficient basis for introducing anarchy. Plus it's probably not really true; open the jobs to the law-abiding public and let's see if they really can't be filled.

2 comments:

James Elliott said...

The problem with dividing the immigration debate into two harshly distinct camps is that your proposed solutions must be equally distinct and equally wrong. Immigration is one of those cases where moderation must needs play a role in the policy formulation.

The second camp prefers a draconian solution: bang on the wall and wait a spell, or get shot or tangled in the barbed wire. Making illegal immigration a felony, as opposed to the civil crime it already is, will end up costing the taxpayer more than they already shell out for meager social services and current enforcement. After all, border enforcement as multiplied since the nineties, as has immigration. Such enforcement is clearly not a deterrent, and will be inordinately costly above all benefits, perceived or real.

The proposed solution of the President's camp, however, is no solution at all, despite the warm and fuzzy feelings it gives us. A guest worker program will do nothing to curb illegal immigration because, in the end, there is no citizenship to work towards. Rather than encourage acculturation or assimilation, it will encourage ethnic enclaves and hostile feelings of "otherness" for both guest workers and citizens. In an effort to avoid being like Western Europe, the United States will become far more like Western Europe. Let us ask Germany's two million Turks, who are not citizens in their own homes, how guest worker programs have worked for them. We need only look to the banlieue-dwelling Maghrebins to see how well encouraging "otherness" turns out for a country.

Immigration is a quintessentially American experience. Both the guest worker program and draconian police measures are equally un-American in spirit and tone. The McCain-Kennedy immigration bill is a far more reasoned approach - a guest worker program with the option of citizenship, and a better process for those who wish to become either.

Evanston said...

JFE, 4 basic questions and a few subsidiary questions:
1. You say "...border enforcement as multiplied since the nineties, as has immigration. Such enforcement is clearly not a deterrent, and will be inordinately costly above all benefits, perceived or real."
Please substantiate your comment, for example: (a) has enforcement truly "multiplied"? (b) is it "clearly not a deterrent" (for example, doesn't increased enforcement at least cause illegals to pay more for guides to cross the border?) (c) what are the benefits, "perceived or real" to enforcement, or do you acknowledge any benefit whatsoever?
2. You state that "A guest worker program will do nothing to curb illegal immigration because, in the end, there is no citizenship to work towards." Are you saying that most illegals are coming here in order to be Americans, that they are refugees of some sort...or will you admit that most come here for jobs and economic benefits and that these could be maintained under a guest worker policy?
3. You state "Rather than encourage acculturation or assimilation, it will encourage ethnic enclaves and hostile feelings of 'otherness' for both guest workers and citizens." You go on to recommend "a guest worker program with the option of citizenship, and a better process for those who wish to become either." Please explain how your measures will discourage FUTURE immigrants from coming until we cannot "assimilate" them quickly enough, and how you will prevent immigrants themselves from creating their own "ethnic enclaves" and "hostile feelings of 'otherness'" (a) simply put, is there any point at which we can have too much immigration, whether legal or illegal? (b) and if not, why not just pass out citizenship cards to anyone who crosses the border (if as you recommend, we should make citizenship their "option")?
4. Hmmm...do these questions make me "un-American in spirit and tone?" If so, how do you define "un-American?"