Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The great immigration debate

Immigration, especially when dealing with illegal immigrants, is a touchy subject. It can lead to strong racial overtones and degradation of entire ethnic populations.

The thing to remember, though, is that most of us living in the U.S. are immigrants. The difference between immigrants of yesteryear and immigrants of today is the opportunities available.

While a vast amount of well-paying jobs have been outsourced to places such as India and China, immigrants continue to stream into our nation.

The difference between the 1800s and 2005 is where they are entering.

In the days of yore, millions of immigrants streamed into America through New York's Ellis Island -- as recently as 1917 or so my grandpa came through New York City like millions before him.

In recent years, though, immigrants are coming not from Europe but from Mexico and Central American countries (to a lesser extent). That is where the debate comes in.

The stigma attached is that anyone of Mexican descent has come here illegally. A certain sector of Americans see them as unwilling to learn English and are disgusted when they hear the Spanish language being spoken.

Being somewhere in the middle, I can see that learning a new language is hard. It is even more difficult when the Mexican culture is so widespread in America. Any city of a certain population certainly has at least an authentic Mexican restaurant possibly owned by (or at least staffed by) persons whose native language is Spanish. The city I work in has two or three as well as a grocery store specializing in Mexican groceries. There is little noticable clashing of cultures. If there are illegal immigrants (and there likely are a few) they keep to themselves and don't cause trouble.

They are here to work. They have come for the promise that our country still has. The only problem with illegal immigrants of the hard-working sort is that they did not follow the proper channels to come here. I feel that as long as they have a clean record both here and from their native country, they should be allowed to obtain citizenship like any other immigrant. On those conditions, though. One strike, however, and it is goodbye.

There are some, though, who are not as forgiving. What they are seeing and stereotyping is the exact element which I would send packing. All this happens while our current president proposes allowing illegal immigrants to stick around as long as they work. He is trying to please both sides by allowing American companies to employ non-citizens while sending a few illegals back home to please residents of border towns.

Of course, the hard truth about the illegal immigrants streaming through our open border with Mexico is that the majority are unskilled and because of their illegal status, even those who are skilled (but stereotypes say that skilled workers would choose to ener legally) will end up in unskilled labor jobs which pay low wages simply because labor laws do not apply to illegal immigrants.

That, among other reasons, is why I chose to leave my old hometown. Because the major employer is the meat-packing industry, the city simply did not have the opportunities a guy in his twenties was looking for.

Since I left nearly three years ago, the landscape of the city has changed a bit. The park I once frequented with friends is now the site of stabbings and fights between two segments of Mexicans.

What was once a relatively safe downtown with enough bars to make even the choosiest drunk happy is now the site of, you guessed it, more stabbings. The bar mentioned caters to a Mexicn crowd and because of a few bad apples, the rest of the population gets a bad name because the events that happen make the news.

Just look at the results for 'stab' in the time since I moved. It's a rather lengthy list that seems to be mostly from 2005. It is just why people don't want our country to be open to immigrants. Again, this is exactly the type of behavior which would get people deported back to their native country as well as their employer receiving a hefty fine if they employed one of the 'bad seeds'.

I will admit that my plan seems a bit weak, but with any plan there needs to be a certain amount of flexibility to make things work. In short, cause trouble and your ass is sent back home, C.O.D. Come here illegally but take the necessary steps to learn the language, gain skills and become a legal citizen through the proper channels and you can stay. Sort of like probation, one strike and back to the pokey. Only here the pokey is Mexico.

1 comment:

texan said...

I'm happy to see someone who seems to have a level head about the subject. It is very upsetting to see such hatred fueled by misinformation and overgeneralization. I agree those who are already here should follow a probation period while being allowed to follow proper channels to obtain residency. If you mess up your gone. The proposed fence is obsurd. There have been fences before, and obviously they haven't worked. The idea to me screams RACISM, but what other options are there to control the influx?
My heart goes out to these people. The Mexican government urges them to leave because they don't want to deal with the masses of unemployed and destitute, and the U.S. wants them out for the same reasons. What are they to do? They beleive in America eveyone is equal, everyone has a chance to prosper. In Mexico there is no such illusion. The minorty of the population the European-Mexican holds all the wealth and power while the more native people have no voice. Did you know that the Wal-Marts in Mexico are too expensive for a large majorty of the population. That should tell you something of the standard of life there. I've spent my entire life in Texas and have grown up with the Mexican influence. From my experience the majorty are hardworking, loyal, family-oriented. Yes there are those bad eggs, but usually those eggs are U.S. born, first generation. Why would someone illegal, draw more attention to themself by breaking the law? I have many friends who are not legal, but have spent more than half their life in this country. I desperatley wish for a solution that wouldn't send them back to Mexico. If you ask them they will tell you and everyone that they aren't Mexican they are Americans. This is their home.