YAKIMA, Wash., April 28, 2013 – The problem with the immigration debate now raging in the halls of congress is it is being debated based on a conventional view of the immigration issue.
Immigration historically was a situation created when an alien came to the United States from a foreign land by way of some livery, usually a ship. The alien was processed and allowed to pursue his, or her, American Dream. Many immigrants have made substantial contributions to America.
The former immigration laws were based on that model, a fairly simple model. That model today has been skewed by a 2,000 mile long border with Mexico.
Secondly, the immigration question has been skewed by big corporations that want people who will work for low-wages. Again, corporate greed is changing the face of America.
Today’s immigration debate isn’t about people coming from Ireland, Italy, India, or the British Isles. The debate is largely around illegal Mexican workers walking across an open border to seek the American Dream.
With the exception of corporate America, the hard working American taxpayer is feeling a little like the American Indian during the never ending invasion of white men, who kept coming out of the east and taking their land.
History does repeat itself. Only the new invaders are not taking land, they’re taking low-wage jobs.
In 1986, there were approximately 3 million illegal aliens. Congress at that time passed an immigration law that would tighten the border, document legal aliens, give corporate America low-wage earners and provide a path to citizenship.
The result today is 11 million, or more, illegal aliens, a border that looks more like Swiss Cheese, a lack of low-wage earners willing to work the farm fields (many have migrated to the cities and are working low-wage jobs there), and a welfare system on the verge of collapse.
But, Grover Norquist, ever the corporate supporter, recently said of the immigrants, “Because immigrants have different skills, they are complements rather than competitors to the vast majority of Americans.”
The question is if Mr. Norquist is talking about the “traditional” immigrant or the illegal immigrant sneaking across our southern border? In either case, he’s pitching low-wage earners for big business.
Norquist and corporate America would happy with a huge job pool making $4.00 per hour, which would add billions of dollars of profit to the corporate profit sheets. Plus, it would be a job pool that couldn’t vote.
In the last immigration action of 1986, it was assumed that most of those aliens wanted to become America citizens. If that was the intent, why today do we have more illegal aliens than ever, mostly from Mexico?
In the last immigration action of 1986, the border between Mexico and the U.S. was to be secured. If that was the intent, why today do we have more illegal aliens streaming across the border than ever before?
In the last immigration action of 1986, businesses were to be held accountable for hiring illegal aliens. If that was the intent, why have so many illegal aliens found work?
Today, the immigration questions are exactly the same as 1986, but on a larger scale. Will our two houses of Congress have the will to bring forth real immigration reform? It’s doubtful.
But know this. Immigration from south of the border will continue. It will continue to change America. It will continue bring certain inherent problems, but it will also add a strong, indelible piece that will enhance what we call the American experience.
(Larry Momo writes columns for the Washington Times Community Section and the San Pedro News Pilot.)
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