What Country Do You Want To Be a Part Of? Posted by: Dale Franks
on Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Debra Saunders punctures an immigration myth that has gained currency for no readily discernable reason.
The Los Angeles Times duly reported, "Some Republicans fear that pushing too hard against illegal immigrants could backfire nationally, as with Proposition 187 (the 1994 ballot measure that sought to deny benefits for illegal immigrants that) helped spur record numbers of California Latinos to become U.S. citizens and register to vote. Those voters subsequently helped Democrats regain political control in the state."
Call that the Backlash Myth. In fact, Prop. 187 passed with 59 percent of the vote, and GOP Gov. Pete Wilson, who championed the measure, was re-elected in 1994. In 2003, when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses, he so enraged voters that he sealed his political demise. After Davis was recalled from office, the heavily Democratic California Legislature repealed the bill.
That's your backlash.
For some odd reason, a modern myth has arisen that Prop 187—which would have cut off pubic benfits of all sorts to illegal immigrants—turned out to be political suicide for its proponents, and that any attempt to reduce the rewards of illegal immigration is doomed to fail. That's simply not what happened. 60% of the electorate approved of 187. No governor who supports a measure that gets 60% of the vote, then is subsequently re-elected, is a failure. The only reason that Prop 187 wasn't implemented is that a 9th Circuit Court judge overturned it, and the administration of Gov. Gray Davis eventually declined to press the issue. As a result, the Proposition died.
The revisionist history of Prop 187 is nothing more than whistling past there graveyard. And the pro-illegal demonstrations of the past few days, no matter how emotionally satisfying to the participants, are likely to have the exact opposite of the intended results. But, that's no surprise. That's the usual fate those that fail to understand the wishes of the electorate.
One of the commenters to yesterday's post on immigration encapsulates the entirety of the problem. "Elizabeth" writes:
I am a Mexican student that attends Central High School, in Nebraska... I was born in the United States...
Uh, I hate to break it to you, Elizabeth, but you are not a Mexican student. You are an American student, attending an American high school. I don't refer to myself as a "Scottish-German" worker. I am an American. My heritage is a matter of interest only to myself. I have, in fact, been known to dress up in Kilt (Davidson of Tulloch) and Sporran, and yet, I still consider myself to be an American. Putting on a skirt and an attractively embroidered leather pouch has nothing to do with my primary identity as an American. At best, wearing a pleated dress—and I look good in a dress—is a matter entirely separate from my identity as an American. No matter how often I dress up like a Catholic schoolgirl, I have no desire whatsoever to live in Scotland or, for that matter, live under the type of government that currently obtains there.
Why don’t people see that Hispanics love their country??!!??
Your country, Liz, is the United States of America. That you appear not to recognize this is the fundamental problem.
I feel that the only way you can survive in America, is if your family has been here since the Civil War, because my family workers there hardest, and still are struggling to pay bills and pay for clothes and food.
Have you ever actually been to Mexico, Libby? I have. I've traveled into the center of the country. I don’t think you actually know what a struggle to pay for clothes and food really means. But, I can assure you, your "fellow" Mexicans know exactly what it means. Which is why, despite the fact that you don't think America is the land of opportunity, 700,000 of your "countrymen" travel here each year.
And, you know what? I wouldn't particularly care if 7,000,000 Mexicans came to the US every year, as long as they determined to become Americans when they got here. But, when they carry signs that declare themselves to hold primary allegiance to Mexico, and asserting that the Southwestern US should revert to Mexican sovereignty...well...that pisses me off. I didn't spend a decade on active duty wearing my country's uniform in order to give you and your ilk the opportunity to drag a quarter of the country back into Mexican misrule.
[Y]ou should never be ashamed of the language you speak, if people don’t like it, then they should get over it! I have gotten so many dirty looks in stores, for speaking Spanish to my family, and I thought America was supposed to be a good place, and not judge you for who you are!!
I was stationed for three years in Brunssum, The Netherlands, at what was then Headquarters, Allied Forces Central Europe. Because AFCENT was a NATO base, without an extensive American support structure, I had to live on the local Dutch economy. You want to know how I bought groceries at Albert Heijn or Jac. Hermann's, or how I obtained bread at the local bakkerij? I learned to speak Dutch. If you think that speaking English in America is such a burden, then maybe you should tritty-trot down to La Paz, Baja California Sur, and speak English for a few days, then compare how accepting the locals are of your refusal to speak Spanish. You might learn a valuable lesson, to wit, that if you are in country X, whose primary language is Y, then speaking language Z is not a popular choice.
When my grandparents came here they had absolutely nothing, they came to Texas, and were illegal. They came and worked, they put their blood and sweat into there work, to become legal. They were deported back to Mexico, and had to leave my father behind, because he was legal. He worked harder than he had in his entire life, to bring his family back.
That is both quite touching, and entirely irrelevant. The question has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Mexican illegals work hard. Indeed, I will stipulate that they do so. The only question—the only question—is whether those immigrants will hold primary allegiance to the United States of America, and abjure their allegiance to any foreign power.
Frankly, Betty, I am not encouraged by your ambivalence on this issue.
Then there's commenter "cllam", who writes:
There have always been cultural arguments against immigration, whether legal or illegal. Ben Franklin was complaining about German settlers 250 years ago...
Well, Ben was a pretty sharp guy, but, not being Jesus, he wasn't infallible. The difference between the wave of legal immigration from Germany 200 years ago and the illegal wave of immigration today, is that the Germans of the time made a conscious effort to assimilate into the broader society of America. They didn’t claim to have some special dispensation that required the broader society of America to cater to them. Instead, they became Americans, and, within a generation, it required a fairly determined exploration of their origins to determine whether their parents came from Germany or Great Britain.
Further, let's conduct a little gedankenexperiment, ("thought experiment", a term that comes courtesy of my German ancestors). Let us assume that the wave of Italian migration of the early 20th century was animated by Italian nationalists. Instead of determining to become Americans, let's say that that had been committed to the idea that America should be an Italian nation, and that the very name, "America" had only been granted only because Amerigo Vespucci had given his name to the New World's northern continent.
Do you honestly think that Italian immigration would have proceeded smoothly?
Of course, that isn't what happened. Italian immigrants were determined to become Americans, in fact as well as in name. They abjured their Italian citizenship in favor of America. In so doing, they not only became true Americans, but they also made the Mafiosi an explicitly American institution. Just think of how bereft American popular culture would be without romantic anti-heroes like Vito Corleone, Al Capone, and Joe Pesci.
"What am I? A comedian? Do I amuse you?"
At the end of the day, what matters isn't the country you come from. All that matters is the country to which you owe your allegiance. If that is a country other than the United States of America, then you should be in that country, not here.
Not so long ago this place was really concerned about there not being enough workers to pay for the boomers in their retirement. Now the debate is how quickly should you deport 10 million working age people?
Dale, thanks for puncturing the Prop 187 myth. That media "truth" was always just a pile of shavings. I lived in California when 187 was passed, and I was astounded by the alacrity with which politicians (mostly Democrats) ensured that this popular proposition was never enforced in that state.
Is this what is meant by the term "Special Interest Group?" Is Jack Abramof lobbying for illegal immigrants, too, these days? -Steve
It’s so funny how this page makes it seem like all immigrants are of some lype of latino descent. What about the middle-eastern, asian and european immigrants? The middle-eastern immigrants practically destroyed this country and are allowed in each day without question. But we are too quick to deport 10 million hispanic immigrants.
Angela, I bet Dale wouldn’t want those unassimilated Middle Eastern immigrants either. But you can’t deny that the majority of the illegal immigrants are from Mexico or points south. I’m a native Californian myself, and I’ve yet to see a Home Depot with a bunch of illegal Chinese, Serbian, or Saudi guys loitering around outside.
Not so long ago this place was really concerned about there not being enough workers to pay for the boomers in their retirement.
And we’re still concerned about it. But, since our point of view is that defined-benefit plans are generally unwise, and that state-mandated national pensions are generally a bad idea, and we object to the intergenerational transfer of wealth from workers to retirees, it’s difficult to see why you think the number of workers has any relevance to our objections. Clearly, you don’t understand our position on Social Security at all, or you could never have written such an outstandingly silly sentence.
Actually, Franklin had some serious political tussles with the backcountry German-American communities when he was in the Pennsylvania colonial legislature. From that experience he generalized some sharp words about German settlers. Some of the Germans were adamant about continuing to speak German at the time too but that was decided in favor of English. By the time of the Revolution (which my 2nd generation German-American ancestor fought in), only religous cults insisted on retaining the language from the Old Country.
Practical and wise politician that he was, he forgave and forgot the specific controversies and moved on yet a few of his words from a specific episode remain with us.
There’s more in recent biographies of Franklin.
As to the wall idea, I agree that is the first priority, even above resolution of other issues, is stopping the physical flood of people. A good stretch goal would be a 95% reduction in illegals over the southern border. A second priority is employer penalties, beyond mere sanctions, but criminalization.
As to guest worker programs, they have NEVER worked. Even the H1B program, a guest worker program supposedly for technical talent, has abundant horror stories here in Silicon Valley of quasi-involuntary servitude, abuse, and helotatry. Besides, why should be NOT care about the negative impact on the wages and salaries of American just because they are trained engineers, scientists, and technicians? That is a major reason American high schoolers look elsewhere for rewarding careers than engineering and science. Why make the huge personal investment in a technical education when the government can flood the market?
Once the physical flow of illegal aliens is stopped, the problem should work itself out over time. We got ourselves into this mess from 50 years of bad public policy and political hypocracy. It might take another 50 years to fix.
Might a tax on wire transfers to Mexico (which is mexico’s 2nd largest source of income) also help stop the outflow of money from our country? And also maybe be a good source of income for border patrol efforts?
President Peter Wilson might disagree with this "pucturing." And Davis was kicked out due to $600 light bills, not the drivers license issue. That, and also the fact that he was a sniveling sycophantic a**hole.
The only thing that will be gained by criminalizing illegal aliens would be a massive increase in the prison population and an equally massive reduction in the workforce. Not to mention diverting law enforcement resources from stopping violent criminals to arresting farm workers.
Now explain just how this huge increase in public expenditures and concomitant reduction in tax income would benefit this country?
Don’t forget that because of a Supreme Court ruling 30+ years ago dual citizenship is no longer against the law. It came about because an American went to Israel and fought in the Israeli army. Under our law that would have stripped him of his citizenship. Now immigrants who become US citizens do not have to renounce their nationality. They can vote in both US and their country of origin. This cannot be a good thing if you believe that becoming a US citizen should be about wanting to renounce your old country for the opportunities of the US.
Dale, This is the first time I’ve visited your blog and it’s great! I had no real emotions one way or the other about illegal immigration until yesterday. The tipping point came for me when I was driving to work through Fairfield, California. I saw police cars with lights flashing, having to drive slowly down the street to keep watch on a crowd of Hispanic high school students demonstrating holding huge Mexican flags and signs reading "Long Live Mexico" in Spanish. They were shouting and yelling through bullhorns and looking rather proud of themselves.
My initial reaction was to roll down my window and yell, "If Mexico’s so great, then why don’t you go back there." I also thought, "What country do they think they’re in anyway?" Then I realized later that they think they ARE in Mexico - a la reconquista.
Well, the whole ordeal really ticked me off, and where I was, at one time somewhat sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants, I found myself with a strong opinion — against illegal immigration.
My grandfather came here from Copenhagen, Denmark when he was 21 - became a citizen legally and raised his family who were and still are very proud to be called just "Americans." Although I am proud of my Danish heritage — I am an American, through and through — just like you!
Thanks again for your wise words and great writing style — and also, thanks for your service to our country!
To all, The ignorance on this blog is apalling. As a Hispanic Republican it shames me that the Dems have been right all along about Republican Racism. I would never vote for them since they’re racist in other senses. This whole debate about Latin immigration has convince me to never vote Republican again. I’m changing to the Libertarian party. Tom Tancredo is the biggest hypocrite. He’s Sicilian who are a Latin peoples, and want to deport Hispanics. Why doesn’t he produce his grandparents documents. You know why Italians were called Wops it means Without Papers. Why don’t you xenophobic nativists worry about Islamic immigration? You have Imans preaching hate against America at Mosques in Brooklyn and Detroit. Yet I don’t see you guys saying anything against them! I know why, you’re afraid of the Islamo-Fascist! Remember the 19 hijackers came in from Canada! Not one of them is Hispanic. Bin Laden and Zarqawi speak Arabic not Spanish. Since many Hispanics will never vote Republican again, the Dems will win 06 and 08. Don’t get mad when taxes are raised, Gay marriage allowed and we surrender to the Islamo-Fascists. You brought on yourselves!
Being of Mexican descent this subject of immigration Is of paticular interest to me - I personally dont know of a solution to this problem all I know is that it is taken a real hard hit on the money that is being spent on the social programs that were created for American People - we cannot continue to allowing these illegal aliens to continue to milk the system for funds that are put aside for Americans - The amount of taxes already being paid to our goverment has got to sieze or the country as a whole will further deterioate -
As a Hispanic Republican it shames me that the Dems have been right all along about Republican Racism. I would never vote for them since they’re racist in other senses. This whole debate about Latin immigration has convince me to never vote Republican again. I’m changing to the Libertarian party.
So, basically, you aren’t a Republican at all.
Huh. So when Mexican immigrants wave Mexican flags, and wave signs proclaiming their allegiance to La Raza, that isn’t racist, but when Americans ask that Mexicans abjure their allegiance to a foreign power, that is racist.
Huh. I see.
And I bet you imagine that you’re a clear thinker, too.
Tom Tancredo is the biggest hypocrite. He’s Sicilian who are a Latin peoples, and want to deport Hispanics. Why doesn’t he produce his grandparents documents.
I dunno. Maybe it was because his grandparents didn;t march in parades, hoisting Italian flags, and proclaiming that 1/4 of the US belonged to Italy. Maybe his grandparents didn’t demand that they be allowed to proclaim that their primary identity was to Italy, rather than the United States.
Why don’t you xenophobic nativists worry about Islamic immigration?
Well, actually, we do. And omne of the reasons we worry about it is that the borders are essentially unpatrolled. Which explaines why there are 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. But, let’s say we were to put the US military on the border to shoot illegal immigrants. If so, just out of curiousity, what group do you think would suffer the greatest number of casualties: Mexican nationals or Arabs?
Yeah. I thought so.
At the end of the day, you don’t actually give a f*ck about islamofascists coming across the borders. It’s a red herring. Shutting down the borders to Islamofacsists would necessarily mean shutting down illegal immigration from Mexico. If you are somehow arguing that the former should be done without affecting the former, then your just living in a fantasy world.
I’ll make deal with you though, if you’ll agree to secure the southern border, I’ll agree to secure the northern border to prevent the Islamofascists from coming in from Canada. But, somehow, I already think I know what your reaction to that suggestion will be, "conquistador".
Since many Hispanics will never vote Republican again, the Dems will win 06 and 08. Don’t get mad when taxes are raised, Gay marriage allowed and we surrender to the Islamo-Fascists. You brought on yourselves!
I note with interest your condemnation of "racism" in one breath, and your wholehearted embrace of homophobia on the other.
"Hello? Hey, Pot! It’s the Kettle. It’s for you. He says you’re black."
Another key element to the whole Benjamin Franklin and German immigrant story is how that German wave of immigrants pretty much came to a halt, and did not pick up again for many years. In fact, all past waves of mass immigration have eventually come to an end, so its a bit disingenous for mass immigration proponents to bolster their position by pointing to the past when they vehemently oppose any such pause in mass immigration today.
Greetings, then. Re your thoughts on backlash, I’m noticing one in myself. On my own blog, one Saturday not too long ago, I wrote a posting called "Not Against the Pro-Illegal Immigration Rally" (on my wonderful blog,
- in which there was a fair bit of irony, but the point was in the title. Here are a few relevant paragraphs:
"It is the right of every citizen of the United States to petition the government for redress of grievances. Surely a protest is a form of petition. And even if some number, large or not, of these protestors are not citizens of the country they presently occupy, it is still entirely fitting that the free expression of opinion be allowed. That they hoot, and chant, and shout and disport themselves, and wave the flags of alien nations, and carry banners and signs that call racist those who would have the laws, of the country they currently occupy, obeyed – well, offensive speech (for so this would be categorized) is lawful. That they don’t have the ... I won’t say intelligence ... I won’t say honesty ... that they don’t have the clarity of expression to call it what it is - illegal immigration, well, perhaps there is a political purpose, in this inaccuracy. And political purpose, lawfully pursued, is the right of every citizen of the United States - and of our guests.
"That they come to this country and are free to express their opinions, brings honor to us. We are glorified, when compared to, say, the countries from which they are fled - countries of economic oppression and rampant corruption - countries of poverty and backwardness - countries they don’t want to be in, as proven by their presence here. They have fled like Lot from Sodom, from the Third World to the First, and are comfortable enough here to loudly voice their political opinions, about what they think our laws should be. They have transformed themselves, with the crossing of a border, from peasants into participants in the greatest political enterprise ever undertaken by mankind.
"All who cross our borders and lawfully petition for the right, may be citizens of this land. We are the envy of the world, and even our enemies would join us if they dared. We are not a race, not an ethnicity, not the children of some necessary heritage. We do not call ourselves, say, la raza - "the race" - imagine people who call themselves "the race" calling others "racist" ... but there is no need to imagine it. We, however, are not a race, and to say otherwise would diminish us. Our heritage is the birthright of everyone who would cherish liberty as we do - that balance of rights and duties. We come from every habitable continent, and we join together to build something that endures, to defend something that is worthy, and to make and enforce laws that are just and necessary. How beautiful and fine. How blessed we are, and how noble, to share our blessings. God has smiled on our shores, and we must be thankful for it."
But, alas, in the comments of this posting I engaged in an unsatisfying correspondance, and I found myself growing harder in my opinions, here
"Here’s the thing. Borders matter. You are not ’just the same’ as us, for a simple reason: you are not citizens. The unliscenced driver is not "just the same" as the licenced driver. There are rights that come with status, which not everyone gets. Membership has its privileges. It is the nature of nationality. It is a private club, which you must petition to join. It’s a movie theater, and you have to buy the ticket to see the film. It’s the YMCA - you have to be a member, or an invited guest, to use the facility. We are a membership organization, and you don’t get a vote. You have rights. But not equal rights. Tough. I can’t vote in Mexico. Boo hoo for me. If for some reason I wanted to vote in Mexico. They do vote in Mexico, right?
"Don’t like it? As long as we remain a sovereign nation with the power to make and enforce law, the self-serving opinions of illegal aliens is a matter of indifference, to me. The opinion of a drug addict about drug laws is a matter of indifference. The opinions of whore-mongers is unimportant. Theirs are crimes against society, not against individuals. This does not diminish their disrepute. Just so, the illegal alien. That they are so shameless, to publicly proclaim their demands, having pushed themselves forward ahead of the honest people who wait in line to enter legally ... that they are so blind, so morally insensible to the stink of it - no, this is a crime, and they are criminals."
I’ve writen a few things since, confirming this idea. Point being, civility, civility, civility. They have much to lose. We have nothing. Guess I wrote about that too, here:
"We have tolerated them. They are here by sufferance. But they are not necessary. We can tend our own infants, as we always have. We have neighborhood kids to mow lawns. We have teenagers who will prepare fast food. We have young men who will do hard labor for a living wage. It has always been so, and all the illegal alien has done is lower the cost of labor, while raising the cost of healthcare and housing and education. They have caused a price war in labor that our entry-level workers cannot win. But let none delude themselves that Americans cannot work. We have transformed the world with our muscle and our sweat - the honorable toil of those born here, and those who have joined us honorably. If a germ of indolence has for a time infected us, it was bred by a policy of governmental entitlements and unearned largesse that enabled sloth and discouraged enterprise. But we can find again our pride of work and our ethic of diligence. So, no. They are not necessary."
You know why Italians were called Wops it means Without Papers.
"Wop" derived from "guapo" not "without papers".
I disagree with the premise of the original post; despite the popularity of prop 187, Republicans in this state have had a tough time garnering votes, and I have difficulty beliving that all those people simply decided that Democrats, supporting drivers licenses for illegals & whatnot, were "better" on the issue because the GOP didn’t fight hard enough for 187.
As to "La Raza" complaining about "racism.": Could a racist think of a more efficient way to marginalize black Americans, especially the lowest-skilled and most vulnerable, than by importing (legally or illegally) millions of unskilled laborers to compete with them in the job market and drive down our historically low wages for unskilled labor?
Wake up, liberals and progressives: when you find yourself agreeing with George W. Bush, shouldn’t you scratch your head?
Regarding Social Security, SOME WORKERS EARN MORE THAN OTHERS, and unskilled immigrants are a net drain on the social welfare system designed for US citizens.
How many $8/hour lawn care workers does it take to pay the Social Security for a college-educated baby-boom US citizen lawyer, doctor, engineer, or schoolteacher? Or even a high-school educated Greatest Generation middle-class machinist or factory worker?! And what happens when the lawn-care guys get injured and go on Social Security disabilty after 10 years of working?
As an engineer, I’m starting to suspect that the lawyers who run our country can’t do math. I don’t mean calculus, I mean basic arithmetic. It explains a lot, really.
(Never mind the fact that chain migration often brings in parents with health issues ("great wave" immigrants faced stringent health examinations upon entry, and many were put back on the boat at the shipping company’s expense). I recall reading a story about unskilled worker, making peanuts, who, with his wife, used "family reunification" to bring in father with diabetes and a mother with lupus, and had several children in public school at $10,000/year, etc.)
The Senate Bill, without doing anything to enforce the numbers, allows an estimated 20 million legal immigrants per year? Even if they were well-educated people from first-world English speaking countries with similar values and culture, could our infrastructure support a doubling of the population in ~10 years?
I studied the 2000 US census for Tulsa, Oklahoma. Many middle-class apartments were requiring bilingual leasing agents, etc. I don’t live there and forgot the exact numbers. I recall that, say, 20% of the population spoke something besides English at home. But something like 80% of those people are also fluent in English (think of your Taiwanese cardiologist chatting with his wife in Chinese over dinner). And only half of the other-than-English was Spanish. So we’re left with 50% of 20% of 20% who could speak Spanish not English. That’s 2% of the population (as I recall, the real number was 1%), and I’m guessing that this 2% was NOT in the market for middle to luxury level apartments. But some businessperson heard "Latinos are the fastest growing market," and decided to exclude a lot of very qualified and talented Americans from this job.
The "Conventional Wisdom" that pursuing one ethnic group which represents a tiny sliver of voters in ways that infuriate everybody else (which includes Asian immigrants who learn English): http://www.slate.com/id/2138935
*Blues Brothers: "We have ~both~ kinds of music, Country *and* Western"
Pseudo-multiculturalist: "We have both of the world’s cultures, bland, racist American and spicy Mexican! Even though thousands of Mexicans die each year trying to escape Mexico, I think we should become more like them."