Thursday, May 04, 2006

Takin' Another Swing at the Immigration Crisis

My school's college newspaper, The Viking, published my "letter to the editor" on the immigration crisis in today's edition. I wrote in response to a rabidly anti-American commentary piece by a student that ran a couple of weeks back, which argued that the recent immigration bill going through Congress was racist, that immigrants today were no different from those in earlier ears, and that the U.S. had "stolen" Mexico. In any case, I'm posting the full letter here:

I am writing in response to Fher Romero’s April 13 Viking commentary piece on immigration. Mr. Romero’s passionate presentation is to be commended. There are, however, a number of unqualified statements in the article. First, the proposed legislation is not racist and xenophobic, designed to “prevent mainly brown people from entering the country.” Romero is simply flashing the race card. His claims are odious and more likely to inflame racial tensions than ameliorate them. Rather, the House bill represents a forceful statement on the immigration crisis and U.S. majoritarian demands to secure the borders. Second, Mr. Romero states that “undocumented immigrants are not currently criminals.” Not true. Illegal aliens are in violation of Title 8, Section 1325, of the U.S. Code, which calls for criminal fines and imprisonment up to six months. Third, contrary to Mr. Romero, the current wave of illegal aliens differs greatly from those who came in previous eras. Nineteenth century European immigrants came by boat, and first saw Lady Liberty in New York Harbor before disembarking at Ellis Island. Today, the massive influx of migrants pours over our contiguous border with Mexico, a unique situation for the U.S., as no other country in the world defends a 2,000 mile demarcation line against foreign invasion. Fourth, and particularly offensive, are Romero’s anti-American remarks about how the Southwest was “stolen from Mexico” and how the Minutemen “should get off of my land.” Mr. Romero, Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, upon Mexico’s defeat in the Mexican American War. Our sovereign borders are recognized under international law. Stay away from lame anti-imperial arguments if you hope to persuade anyone in this debate. Recent protesters waving the Mexican flag simply make it easier for Congress to argue that illegals have no plans on assimilating to the U.S. Finally, research shows that illegal aliens, mostly uneducated laborers, cost the U.S. more in welfare, education, housing, and health care than they contribute through taxes, and children of illegals lag behind native-born Americans in educational attainment and income. In closing, we face a monumental immigration crisis, and reform is badly needed, whether that be through H.R. 4437 or some other more accommodative approach (some blend of border enforcement and amnesty). For this to happen, of course, contributors to the debate should stick with the facts, rather than attempt to incite further recriminations through ill-advised race-baiting and America-bashing.
Should anyone come to the wrong conclusion, note that I'm actually pro-immigation -- legal immigration that is. The United States is the most successful multiethnic democracy in the world. The immigrant heritage in this country enriches the nation and people beyond comprehension. It's the entitlement and anti-Americanism of the reconquista movement that I can't stand. I also firmly believe that language is the core element of national identity, and English proficiency should be a basic requirement of all newcomers to the country. Lou Dobbs on CNN is making a name for himself recently with his firm convictions surrounding the issue of illegal immigration and his steady coverage of the crisis. He had a nice piece on assimilation on the program's website a few weeks back. For a couple of articles on immigration from Newsweek's Robert Samuelson cick here and here.

Check out, as well, Samuel Huntington's, Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity, for a fascinating and compelling look at the variety of issues raised by recent decades of consistently high rates of immigration. Here's the link:


Steve Landis said...

Excellent letter.

Donald Douglas said...

Thanks Landcomm! Take care.