Los Angeles Times
Columnist Al Martinez wrote for last Friday’s column, Bravo, Cardinal. And about that pope of Hollywood tag ...,
an impassioned piece regarding the Hispanic migration to the U.S. I knew immediately that I needed to write a blog in response. Unfortunately the hour was late, and I was way too tired to tackle the task. So, I dashed off an e-mail to Al informing him of my intention. He replied that I should “fire when ready.” I’m now ready. Lock and Load.
Al says that there is bigotry in the migrant issue. He wrote that there
…has been a slowly building antipathy in the U.S. toward any brown-skinned guy who stands on a corner looking for work or any brown-skinned woman who needs medical assistance or any brown-skinned kid who needs food. Cops were being urged to check them for green cards, and groups within organizations like the Sierra Club began urging limitations to any kind of immigration. And, …none of this is aimed at Brits, Swedes or Canadians.
A point of correction: the Sierra Club’s proposal for “limitations to any kind of immigration” would by definition included Brits, Swedes and Canadians.
For most Americans, the immigration/illegal immigration debate is centered upon concern over employment, taxes, crime, education, health care and welfare entitlement, terrorism and yes, compassion. For a minority, add the malignancy of racism, hate and xenophobia.
Al says that there is no antipathy toward “Brits, Swedes or Canadians.” For shorthand purposes you can read “white” people. His piece specifically mentions Latinos and Mexicans, so apparently he is not considering other non-whites, like Middle Eastern people. To be fair to Al, you can’t address everything in one newspaper column. There are limits to the number of column words allowed.
Let’s be clear on this bigotry issue, because it is not confined to white-skin people. There is a minority of brown-skin people who utter the same vile rhetoric that comes out of the mouths of white supremacists. They are neo-Mexican nationalists who demand California and the Southwest to be theirs and destined to again be a part of Mexico. Hate is an equal opportunity employer, and it does not apply to the vast majority of either white or brown skin people.
There is open racial discord between blacks and Hispanics and much of it has to do with competition for jobs that were traditionally the province of blacks and whites. Call it racism if you like. In the Los Angeles schools and California prisons the tension is expressed in riots.
As examples of targets for antipathy, Al cites: guys standing on corners looking for work; women in need of medical assistance; and hungry children. Al has a point there, at least in regards as to who appears to have the greatest per capita demand in these areas. I never see white guys standing on the corner, or black or yellow for that matter. On the medical issue, there is a clogging of the system and frankly marginalized Latinos are playing a significant role. Resources are limited and thus the debate is really one of national need and to whom this society wishes to bequeath the benefits of this country.
Since the dawn of their awareness, families have braved oceans, mountains and deserts seeking food sources, water supplies, fertile land or better weather in an effort to simply exist. Then political boundaries slammed down like iron gates on the freedom to move, and the terms "illegal alien" and "undocumented worker" entered our vocabulary to isolate the victims of a new territorial imperative.
The concept of safety in numbers is axiomatic. That’s why humans band together in groups of self-interest. On a macro level we call that a nation or country. The boundaries of the country represent the extent that the self-interest group has the power to enforce its “territorial imperative.” Ascribing to the concept that people are world citizens, the family as part of a “global village,” who should be unencumbered by national borders and regulations is a mistaken understanding of the nature of humans. That’s why the U.N. is an utter failure.
You certainly can not blame people living in less desirable countries for wanting to come to the U.S. in hopes of bettering their lives. There is no doubt that immigration is healthy for a nation providing the immigrants fulfill a need and do not adversely affect the overall health of the host country.
Crisis is inevitable when a country gets itself into a position of overburdened social systems and an inability to provide adequate employment. That’s a root problem leading to the recent French riots.
Americans are beginning to fear that we have reached our societal carrying capacity and that illegal immigration is fueling a burgeoning underclass and massive entitlement growth. We do need foreign workers to do the jobs that citizens are not willing to do for one reason or the other. Still there is no denying immigrants, much of them illegal, are taking jobs that some citizens want to hold. When was the last time that you saw a non-Hispanic work in a car wash, bus tables, do day labor, landscaping or gardening, or work in a fast food restaurant? In Southern California that would be infrequently. And, they are making serious inroads into the trades.
A society that governs itself by the will of the people creates laws to define that will. The term “illegal,” as in illegal alien, is a description of others in our presence in violation of our self-interest group’s desire, as codified in immigration laws. Contrary to what Al wrote, “illegal” does not fly “…in the face of human history and human tendencies.” When laws no longer meet the need of the people, they are properly amended or rescinded. The American people are to blame for allowing its government to not enforce the immigration laws. We have passively sanctioned the flaunting of those laws by illegal migrants, and we have been party to business reaping the benefit of cheap labor. The current demand that government fulfills the will of the people and enforces immigration laws is not a form of bigotry. We should welcome productive migrants to our soil, but insist that they be legal. We must institute a guest worker visa program that does not automatically make the person eligible for permanent residence or citizenship. If the guest worker wishes to become a citizen he should stand in line like all other legal migrants. And, we should prioritize citizenship to those who have skills that we need and give preference to those who come from countries with our core values.
I understand Al’s pain for the people who are escaping countries with corrupt governments and bleak economic prospects. They do so with the sole purpose of improving their lives. But, flaunting the rules of the host nation is disrespectful. I suspect that Americans, who are the most generous people on earth, are beginning to feel used and abused. It’s getting more difficult to keep the welcome mat at the border.