Sunday, May 02, 2010

Illegal Immigration As I See It

In my last post, I spoke to the specific issue of the English-only driver's test. I would like to back away from that tree and look at the whole forest. First some background on my perspective.

With the exception of one great-great grandmother? who was Cherokee, I am the descendant of immigrants to this great land, whom I assume were legal. My ethnic heritage is best described as Caucasian "mutt." I have had close and personal knowledge of and relationships with Hispanics since I was 10 years old. First with a lovely Puerto Rican family (who as you probably know, are born U.S. citizens, as P.R. is a territory of the United States). Then with the largely illegal immigrant working population of Northeast Alabama while I worked as a translator in Human Resources for a poultry plant from 1998-1999 and from 2000-2001. I have worked with immigrant children of all nationalities as an ESL tutor while at the University of Alabama. I have taught English to housewives in their homes, eaten beef head with insanely HOT hot sauce, and in general, been in the Hispanic world a lot. I have never had the privilege of living in a foreign country, so my opinion of immigration must be said to be from an external position. However, maybe my experiences as blogged here will be interesting to some. (I have so many thoughts on this subject that this may be a bit random- sorry) I'd love to hear any thoughts you may have as well.

Illegal Immigration from a Moral Perspective:
-I.I. for the purpose of working involves stealing another's identity (or paying someone else to do that for you), lying continuously about your own, and breaking the laws of a sovereign nation. For this reason, I stand on the fact that illegal entry into a country is not only unlawful, but also morally wrong.
-Most of the Hispanic illegals are Catholic. The priest is able to absolve them of sin, so my guess is they feel OK with just confessing this sin and moving on.
-Even in the evangelical Hispanic congregations, I have heard the position that "Christ can understand what it's like to be an illegal immigrant in a desperate position, because He and His parents emigrated from Israel to Egypt to flee Herod." Considering that Egypt was included in the Roman Empire at the time of His birth, this is an sad argument made out of ignorance.

Illegal Immigration from an Economic Perspective
-"We need them." We have allowed our agrarian segments of the society to become dependent on illegally obtained labor. If all the illegals were magically "poof-ed" out of the U.S. right now, we would have some serious issues.
-"They're using us."If the situation were reversed, and poor Texans were looking across the border at a much more prosperous scenario in Mexico, I can guarantee you there would be illegal emigration involved. The idea that the majority of Americans in our post-Christian society would not do something illegal to make money is highly doubtful.
-"If they want to live here, they should learn English." This presupposes they want to live here. Many do come here for that purpose, but many, many just need the money, and plan to be here temporarily.
-"They don't pay taxes." That's false. They pay sales tax like everyone else. Do they file taxes annually? No. That is wrong and unfair to the citizenry of the U.S. When I was working in HR, we would get calls like this: "John Doe Gomez is an American citizen in a nursing home in Los Angeles. He was informed by the government this month that his social security number is drawing income in four different states. He is being asked to pay income tax on these salaries. Does someone with this SSN work for you?" This is really sad for those who are victimized.
-"They fill the jobs that Americans don't want." I found this to be pretty accurate. There were openings where I worked all the time. We would hire 90% Hispanic and 10% other. Many of the non-Hispanics we hired were playing the unemployment system. They would hire in, work 2-3 hours, and quit, claiming they were "unable to physically perform the job." Then I would have to process all their paperwork, which they took to the unemployment office to prove they "were actively seeking employment." This guaranteed them another series of checks from our tax dollars. Just for the record, the only time I ever saw Hispanics play the system was if they married an U.S. citizen who showed them how.

Illegal Immigration from a Social Perspective
-"They are a bunch of criminals." Do they have a higher crime rate? I would guess so. Simply because immigration for the purpose of work pulls the lowest echelon of another society into our own. Poverty tends to foster criminal behavior. Are the guys standing behind you in line at Wal-Mart discussing how to murder you in the parking lot? They're probably just talking about how much they're paying for that lettuce. Only once have I ever heard inappropriate conversation behind me. I turned around and kindly asked them in Spanish where they attended church. That was the end of that.
-"It just makes me mad!" It is perfectly normal to be ticked off when someone is stealing from you. Anger can be righteous. But we have to be super-careful to keep it in the righteous category. As Christians, we must remember all people are made in the image of God, and are worth His love. And ours. I found compassion for them by listening to their stories. I translated for one 11 year old boy who sat in children's church. His mother's brains were blown out in front of him over a land dispute in Guanajuato, and he was sent to live with family. Is it wrong to break the law? Absolutely! Without a doubt! Should we be loving and kind to even those who do wrong. Absolutely! Without a doubt!

Illegal Immigration from a Political Perspective
-I believe the INS system is B-R-O-K-E-N. I have personally worked with them, mediating stuff for legal immigrants. The layers of bureaucracy are terrible, and many decide being illegal is better than all the hassle. And I mean YEARS of hassle.
-I do not believe in amnesty. I think law-breakers should pay for law-breaking. Let's assume for a moment that you could actually apprehend and prove each illegal to be illegal. (A big, big assumption given the brilliance of the black market) I believe any illegal wishing to become legal should be AT LEAST required to go through the system, along with paying all backtaxes with interest applied for years worked without legal status. Their voting privileges should be just as restricted as each state mandates for its felons.
-I believe children born to illegals should be illegal. The country is full of illegals with legal children. That has big implications, including receipt of gov't funds, along with deportation issues.

And if you just read all THAT, go out and buy yourself an enchilada. Wow- that was my blog rant of the decade.

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