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Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

We Are Blessed to Have Them Among Us
posted by Bathus

From: Bathus
To: Victor Davis Hanson
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 12:37 AM
Subject: A Force of Nature: Illiberal Aspects of Illegal Immigration

Dear Mr. Hanson,

You are right that there is much that is illiberal about the way we manage, or fail to manage, illegal immigration from Mexico.

However, I am convinced that the human waves arriving from that country are impelled and attracted by economic, cultural, and political conditions that make that migration akin to a force of nature. Those economic, cultural, and political conditions will not change soon, and until they do, neither demagogic laws nor more rigorous enforcement to prevent those human movements will do much good--and might do much harm.

We might as well pass laws to prevent birds from flying south in the winter.

We might as well make it illegal for hurricanes to enter the Gulf of Mexico.

Yes, we and Mexico should set to work on the underlying causes, but in the meantime and so long as those underlying causes exist, a more rational approach would attempt to divert those human waves into manageable channels, increasing by several multiples the number of Mexicans legally allowed to enter this country, so that: (1) the immigrants who come here will both receive the benefits and bear the burdens of our laws and our culture (i.e., get them legal, get them into the mainstream, get them moving up the ladder of success, and then tax the hell out of them like everyone else!); and (2) we can then focus our attention more narrowly on the serious national security risk presented by the remaining few who would attempt to enter the country illegally. As to the latter point, the way things are now, terrorists and drug smugglers can easily hide themselves in the massive waves that cross our borders every day and night. By diverting the vast majority of illegals into a legal process, we would at least have an opportunity to scrutinize them as they come in the front door, and we could then assume that those who do not take a legal route are coming here to do harm.

I confess I am a great admirer of the work ethic and family ethic that one sees in the overwhelming majority of Mexican immigrants, whether legal or illegal, and I agree that the treatment illegal immigrants get under our present system is embarrassingly illiberal. Our illiberality is especially embarrassing inasmuch as these are people who raise and serve much of our food and many of our children, put roofs on our houses, pave our streets, clean the toilets in our homes and offices, and empty our aging parents' bedpans, all done with smiles on their faces, goodwill in their hearts, and for wages at which most any American would turn up his nose. We are truly blessed to have such humble and hardworking people among us.

With very few exceptions, the ones who decide to stay here will turn out to be very fine citizens if we give them half a chance. And unless we suddenly become willing to do a lot more of the "dirty work" for ourselves (and also willing to pay a lot more for the houses they'll no longer be building for us, the crops they'll no longer be picking for us, and the care they'll no longer be providing to our children and our old folks), there's no getting around the fact that we need them desperately.

Perhaps this is a sad commentary on the soft state of our own society: From my personal experience of having lived and worked on the Texas Gulf Coast for twenty-five years, if I had to choose--out of fifty "natives" and fifty illegals selected at random--ten people who would work hard and stick with it in a pinch, I'd probably take seven Mexicans and three US citizens. (At least one of the Anglos would have to speak Spanish, because my own Spanish still ain't so hot. I'm working on it.)

I read and very much admire all your writing, and I remain . . . .

Your loyal advocate,

Bathus at Adeimantus Blog

posted by Bathus | 6/22/2005 01:16:00 AM
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Blogger Phil Dillon, Prairie Apologist said...


I see the same thing hee in Emporia, Kansas. Hispanics come to work in the meat packing plant or doing other jobs that no one else seems to want. They work hard, have strong family bonds, and for the most part want to take advantage of any opportunity given them.

What many of the people here fail to realize is that their complaining about these folks taking jobs, etc is totally counter-productive. I'm told that in about 20 years this town is going to be well over fifty percent Hispanic. They may be low on the policical scale right now, but when the day comes that they're the majority, those who have complained about them will have to find a different song to sing.

I think that in many ways their saga paralells that of the Irish when they came to America.

9:16 PM, June 27, 2005  
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