Saturday, July 22, 2006

Straight Talk on Immigration: What Conservatives Miss in the Current Illegal Alien Debate

In a previous post I laid out a critque of the Wall Street Journal's editorial stance on the conservative divide over illegal immigration. Well it turns out that Heather MacDonald, one of the most potent conservative voices on the immigration crisis writing today, has a incisive, facts-on-the-ground analysis of America's current illegal alien debate in the latest issue of City Journal. MacDonald looks at four key areas in the debate, focusing on where conservatives have lost their bearings: Concern for the rule of law; threats to national sovereignty; the Hispanic breakout of criminality and its challenge to law enforcement; and the absence of family values within the ethnic enclaves of Mexican and Central American illegals.

Here's a quote from MacDonald on the challenge to American sovereignty:

Today’s international elites seek to dissolve “discriminatory” distinctions between citizens and noncitizens and to discredit border laws aiming to control the flow of migrants. The spring amnesty demonstrations are a measure of how far such new anti-national-sovereignty ideas have spread. The last large-scale amnesty in 1986 was not preceded by mass demonstrations by illegal aliens but was rather a bargaining chip among American legislators, negotiated in exchange for employer sanctions and a national worker-verification card. Predictably, the card never materialized, and the sanctions were never enforced; only the amnesty lived on.

By contrast, this year’s protesters spoke the language of the anti-sovereignty intelligentsia. This increasingly influential discourse was on display at a May conference of Latin American diplomats at the Library of Congress, which spun endless variations on the identical theme: migration is a fundamental human right. As Nicaragua’s minister of foreign affairs, Norman Caldera Cardenal, put it: “It is the responsibility of all nations to respect the dignity, integrity, and rights of all migrants.” (The delegations dutifully acknowledged the U.S. prerogative to decide its own immigration policy, but these ritual genuflections were insignificant compared with the invocations of migrants’ rights.) In less diplomatic language, Mexico’s bicameral permanent legislative commission calls American immigration policy “racist, xenophobic, and a profound violation of human rights,” reports George Grayson in The American Conservative.

Less than a week before the Library of Congress conference, illegal aliens on the streets of Southern California were making the identical demands: “We just want some respect and human rights,” a Santa Ana protester told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re fighting to give [immigrants] equal rights,” explained a marcher in Riverside, California, holding a “Legalize, Not Terrorize” sign.
This call for “human rights” is a clever one, for it hides its radical status in a rhetorical safe harbor. What, exactly, are the “human rights” that the U.S. is denying illegal aliens? They have unfettered access to free medical care, free education, welfare for their children, free representation in court when they commit crimes, every due-process protection during criminal prosecution that the Constitution guarantees citizens and legal immigrants, the shelter of labor laws, and the miracles of modern industrial society like clean water, the control of infectious diseases (including the ones that they bring with them), and plumbing. The only putative “right” that they lack—and that, of course, is the “human right” to which they and their ambassadors refer—is the right to legal status regardless of illegal entry.
Speaking now of the utter absence of traditional values among large numbers of Hispanic undocumented immigrant households, MacDonald lays out some interesting considerations on the illegal alien legitimacy crisis, academic failure, the immigrant gang crisis, and the large-scale rejection of Hispanic assimilation to American culture.

Here's MacDonald on the Hispanic gang culture:

In his prime-time May radio address promoting amnesty, President George Bush invoked a marine, Guadalupe Denogean, as the embodiment of immigrant values. Like Denogean, today’s immigrants are willing, said Bush, “to risk everything for the dream of freedom.” Many immigrants do share Denogean’s patriotic ethic. But for every immigrant soldier, there are as many less admirable counterparts. A selection of Hispanic portraits could just as well have picked out Connie Retana, a 38-year-old Anaheim, California, resident, who in February egged on her 18-year-old son, Martin Delgado, as he and his gang friends raped a 23-year-old for seven hours in retaliation against the young woman’s boyfriend. A survey of Hispanic family values might also include the Santa Ana mother who threatened in 2004 to kill her neighbors if they testified against her gangster son in a gun-assault case. Then there’s the extended family of criminals in Pomona, California, who raised Valentino Arenas: the 18-year-old sought membership in Pomona’s 12th Street gang by killing a California highway patrol officer in cold blood in April 2004. Following a sweep in May of the gang, which specializes in large-scale drug trafficking, murder, and extortion, Los Angeles district attorney Steve Cooley excoriated the families across the California Southland who are “aiding and abetting murders in Los Angeles County” by refusing to cooperate with authorities or curtail their children’s crimes.

Open-borders conservatives point to the relatively low crime rate among immigrants to deny any connection between high immigration and crime. But unless we can prevent immigrants from having children, a high level of immigration translates to increased levels of crime. Between the foreign-born generation and their American children, the incarceration rate of Mexican-Americans jumps more than eightfold, resulting in an incarceration rate that is 3.45 times higher than that of whites, according to an analysis of 2000 census data by the pro-immigrant Migration Policy Institute.

California, with one-quarter of the nation’s immigrants and its greatest concentration of Mexicans and Central Americans, is the bellwether state for all things relating to unbridled Hispanic immigration, including crime. The Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study, conducted by sociologists Alejandro Portes of Princeton and RubĂ©n G. Rumbaut of the University of California, Irvine, followed the children of immigrants in San Diego and Miami from 1992 to 2003. A whopping 28 percent of Mexican-American males between the ages of 18 and 24 reported having been arrested since 1995, and 20 percent reported having been incarcerated—a rate twice that of other immigrant groups. Anyone who speaks to Hispanic students in immigrant-saturated schools in Southern California will invariably hear the estimate that 50 percent of a student’s peers have ended up in gangs or other criminal activities.

Gang life—both Hispanic and black—immediately asserted itself last July when the Los Angeles Unified School District opened a model high school to ease overcrowding. Despite amenities that rival those of private schools—a swimming pool, Mac computers, a ballet studio, a rubber track, and a professional chef’s kitchen—it instantly gained the distinction of being one of the most violent campuses in the system. Shots rang out in front of the school on the second day of classes, reports the Los Angeles Times, and three days after opening ceremonies, police arrested a student with an AK-47 on the campus perimeter. Brawling students attacked safety officers and tried to grab their guns in December, while cops pepper-sprayed a dean breaking up a gang fight in March. Students sell meth in the classrooms, graffiti covers the stairwells, textbooks, and high-design umbrella-covered picnic tables, and a trip to the bathroom requires an adult safety escort.
Be sure to read the whole thing. For more on the immigrant gang crisis, see MacDonald's earlier article on the topic in City Journal. For my earlier post on immigration and national culture, from the perspective of Eva Longoria's personal experience, click here. For my post on how immigration is affecting GOP congressional races this year, click here. Also, for my post on how the Minutemen succeeded in shutting down a local illegal alien day labor center, click here.


Jon said...

What you seem to be missing, all of those demands they were making would be acceptable had they been citizens and covered by our US Constitution. Just because they are in this country doesn't automatically give them all the rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution. It only covers legal citizens of the U.S. and not just because they found a way to sneak in and there for broke our laws. Just because you consider Immigration laws not big deal, doesn't mean the majority of the people in America does. The way the liberals think as long as you can find a way into this country you should be given all the guarantees of US citizens and that is nonsense, it you entered this country illegally you should be kicked out and if you want to come back you have to go through the legal channels. So it appears it is the liberals have been missing something and not the conservatives.

Donald Douglas said...


Thanks for commenting. I left a response to you over at News, Views, and Opinions. Please take a look at this post one more time. Some conservatives have allied with the liberal open-borders immigrants rights lobby to push for deeper pro-illegal immigration policies, a direction that will continue the threaten our national security and sovereignty. I have consistently denounced illegal immigration in my posts, and especially the radical leftist activist groups leading calls for the reconquista of the Southwest United States.

Give this and some of my other posts a closer read.

Thanks for visiting and take it easy.

Jon said...

It looks like I missed your point of the post and you are right that it seems that there are many conservatives (especially in the Senate) that have aligned themselves with liberals and it was a big reason that the House and Senate weren't going to be able to reconcile their two versions of an Immigration Bill.

Thanks for stopping by our blog and I responded to your comment and thanks for pointing out my misunderstanding of your post.

Donald Douglas said...

Sure thing, Jon. Thanks for your response here, and over at News, Views, and Opinions. I'll look forward to reading your posts and comments in the future.

Jon said...

Thanks Donald.