Thursday, December 7, 2006

Hypocrite Doesn't Begin to Describe It

During this past campaign, Texas governor Rick Perry ran campaign ads which presented him as a crusader on border security- that he was, essentially, the only thing standing between us and a mass migration of Mexican nationals into the USA. These ads were probably what got him over the forty percent threshhold in the vote, and might even have been what held off Chris Bell and Carole Keeton Strayhorn- especially with highly bigoted anti-Hispanic anti-immigration groups pushing hard in Texas in support of closed-border policies and candidates.

Well, Perry got 41% of the vote and won the election thereby. Now that he's not on the stump, he's entirely changed his tune on the issue. Now he opposes building a fence along the border- plus he calls for a guest-worker program, essentially following the lead of his patron George W. Bush.

And, y'know, look how well that proposal served him.

Most telling to me, though, is the following quote from the Houston Chronicle's coverage:

"Let's create a guest-worker program that takes these workers off the black market and that legitimizes their economic contributions without doing the same for their citizenship."

Translated: "I want them Mexicins mowin' my yard, but I don't want my daughter ta marry one."

And that's the crux of it. The Republicans in general don't object to illegal immigrations for any reason associated with labor or law; they object because they don't want immigrants, legal or not, who aren't white and rich. They'll never admit to that in public, but if you follow their policies and their actions, you'll see the trend for yourself.

Now for a few facts.

Fact #1: The more people you have at labor in a society- regardless of their legality- the more jobs and more wealth there is. Labor produces wealth, be it by manufacturing or simply by doing something that other people find annoying or distasteful. The more wealth there is in circulation, the more people spend; the more people spend, the more jobs there are; the more jobs there are, the more wealth in circulation.

Fact #2: There is no argument, aside from "rule of law" concerns, against illegal immigration that cannot also be applied to LEGAL immigration. Immigrants have always accepted lower wages than native-born citizens, because they're used to a lower standard of living. In the past people have complained that blacks, Irish, Italians, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Jews, etc. etc. etc. were "stealing jobs away from good (white) Americans." Those immigrants have always sent money back to family members who remained in the old country- would that American families retained that ethic! These immigrants, for the most part impoverished by our standards, take disproportionate advantage of government mandated services like emergency medical care- because (a) we provide it to those who need it regardless of circumstance, and (b) they can't afford anything else.

Fact #3: Many Americans- and especially Texans- are descendants of illegal immigrants. At the time of the Texas Revolution, only about ten thousand Texans were in the district legally according to Mexican law- either native-born Mexicans or authorized settlers under land grants chartered by the Mexican government. The rest, including such people as William Travis, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett, simply jumped the border and settled illegally. Other places- Santa Fe, NM, Deadwood, ND, Atlanta, GA, the Cumberland valley of Kentucky and Tennessee, the entirety of Connecticut and Rhode Island, the entire eastern Gulf Coast including Florida- were settled in direct violation of the prevailing laws of the time- even the prevailing WHITE MAN'S laws of the time. I'm not even considering the (valid) arguments of Indians here.

Fact #4: America is NOT overcrowded. In fact illegal immigrants over the past decade have shifted from urban to rural migration. Even east of the Mississippi there are vast regions underdeveloped or completely undeveloped, with fewer than four persons per square mile. We still have plenty of room for immigrants- so there's no good reason to restrict them on that count.

There is a valid purpose to having borders- to repel conquering invaders and to stop criminals and known terrorists from entering the nation. However, don't believe conservative propoganda- most Mexicans are NOT members of Aztlan and do NOT support a Reconquista. They want to get away from crushing poverty and corrupt government- just as our ancestors did, centuries ago. People like Rick Perry want to use these people and then throw them out when their usefulness is gone... but they're willing to lie about that belief in order to get the votes they need to retain power.

The ethical stance- the Libertarian stance- is to let them stay so long as they don't violate the rights of others.


Celine said...

I'm with you on most of this. I do cringe a bit over the "America still has room" argument, because if we don't take some thought to population issues now, sooner or later we won't have room. Besides, the sparsely-populated areas aren't where the immigrants tend to go, precisely because there are few opportunities for work there.

But yeah... the whole "Mexican invasion" thing is just smoke and mirrors. It's a classic magic-word argument, but one that's working fairly well because it's relatively new.

Kris Overstreet said...

Well, if population issues aren't taken into account, the whole world will be overpopulated- that's a given.

The funny thing is that the birth rates of the developed world, without exception, have dropped below sustaining level. If not for immigration, the United States would currently have a stable or even shrinking population- about 1.9 births per 2 deaths. Japan, with Draconian immigration laws, has 1.4 births per 2 deaths. Their twenty-year recession is due in no small part to the incoming work force being unable to sustain either the needs of industry or the demands of the social safety net.

But to take the alternative... well, China for instance, where you need a permit for your second child and a third child is almost totally banned under any circumstances. China has no immigration to speak of- few people WANT to move there- but despite policies which should reduce their population, it is in fact EXPLODING.

My interpretation- wealth reduces population. Government intervention doesn't (except for the methods used by Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot).

Finally, immigrants are indeed moving in large numbers into rural America- small towns and the like where they can get farming or day-labor jobs, cheaper housing, and a lower chance of INS finding them. In 2005, if memory serves, the census bureau and INS studies found that the fastest growing illegal alien population was in, of all places, KENTUCKY.

(And closer to home, the last couple years Livingston, TX, pop. about 6500, has had a Cinco de Mayo parade- something absolutely unthinkable a mere decade ago...)