Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Immigration Debate

My blogs thus far have been my opinions on various subjects. This one is different. On this issue I am completely torn. So, if you have strong feelings on this issue, or a unique perspective, please comments and let's have a discussion.

To preface this blog, I am linking up three videos. The videos are Penn & Teller's take on the whole debate from their show Bullshit. Agree with them or not, they definitely are food for thought. So, please, watch the videos, read my comments, and then lets discuss it. I will warn you, however, the language is a little on the rough side, so don't watch these at work or around the kids.

As usual, this blog is being posted on both my Blogger site and my MySpace site. If you have a myspace account, please comment on the myspace site, otherwise, please comment here.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

There is really three parts to this debate. We have the border question, the immigration question itself, and the question of what to do with the illegals who are already here. So, lets deal with each of these separately.

The Border

Until recently, I was an advocate of fencing off the southern border. What changed my mind? Watching people get over, under and through the fence in less than five minutes. The government, right now, is preparing to spend 60 Billion dollars to cover only 1/3rd of the border with a fence that can be bypassed in five minutes. Does this seem to anyone else to be a absurd waste of money? Additionally, if Penn & Tellar's statistics are correct - which I would bet they are - only half the illegals jump the border anyway - the rest just overstay legal visas.

So my questions are: Why is this a good idea? Can we truly secure the border? Even if we secure the southern one, what about the northern one? If we do secure the southern border, whats to stop immigrants from hopping a boat in Mexico and sailing up the coast a bit and coming ashore in some random spot? Can we really hope to keep out people who really want to get here?


We are a nation of immigrants. If you get right down to it, no one, not even the Native Americans, are actually native. Whether you believe in creation or evolution, I think everyone can agree that the origin of mankind was not North America. America is an amazingly diverse society, made up of every culture, tradition, religion and belief in the modern world. Every group that has come here so far has added, in positive ways, to our society.

It has been argued that letting in too many immigrants will take the jobs of Americans, and yet, with an estimated 12 million illegals in the county, unemployment is under 5% and pretty much has been that way every non-recession year that I can remember. It is also clear that one of the major things driving immigration from Central and South America is not so much a fleeing of tyranny, but, rather, trying to find work. The illegals would not be coming here in the numbers that they do if there was not a demand for their services.

With that in mind, how do our immigration laws play into this? Can we lessen the amount of illegal immigration by making it easier for people to come here to work? If so one wants to come here to work, and they don't have a serious criminal record, why not let them in? Could easing immigration laws to make it easier to get here legally reduce the number of harmless people coming across the border, thereby making it easier for the Border Patrol to round up the not-so-harmless ones?

Illegal Immigrants already in the U.S.

We have something like 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Many of them have been here for years. Several of them have children who are U.S. Citizens. Realistically, we can't round up and deport them all in any reasonable amount of time. Even if we could, the economic repercussions could be severe, especially in the agriculture and construction industries.

One of the arguments against deportation has been that the price if food would go up as farmers costs increased due to having to pay more for labor. The counter to this argument was that, what we were saving in food, the government was paying out in services to people who were paying no taxes, and that we would save that money, out taxes would go down, and we wouldn't notice. Should we deport all these people, does anyone really believe that the savings in social programs would result in a tax decrease? Anyone?

Many people oppose "amnesty" for the illegals already here. So far, the programs proposed are not amnesty, but, rather, are stiff fines and requirements that illegals return to their native countries, pay the fines, and then apply for legal admission - which is not guaranteed. I understand, in principle, that we must respect the rule of law, but, at the same time, we have, as a society, made exceptions when it seemed to be in the best interests of those involved (i.e. amnesty for Vietnam era draft dodgers)

So, what is the best way to deal with this problem? Can we deport 12 million people? Should we deport 12 million people? What about immigrants whose children were born here and are American Citizens, being we can't deport the kids with the parents? Why would an illegal return home and apply for admission when their ability to return is not guaranteed? What is the point of asking them to return home in the first place? Can we not find a way to legalize those who are productive members of our society with out being overly punitive?


Like I said at the start, I am not sure what I think on all this. I am not even sure why it is the huge issue that it is. A lot of people cite crime committed by illegals, but, legal immigrants and citizens commit a whole lot of crime too, so I am not so sure this argument holds much water. If anything, legalizing the good immigrants would free up resources to focus in on the bad ones. Also, though I hate to say it, some of this debate is driven by good old fashioned bigotry, just like when we had laws against Chineese immigrants or Japaneese immigrants, or immigrants from various European countries that no one liked at the time. So, anyway, convince me. What should we do with this mess?

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