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Open borders or a Welfare State: Pick one
Posted by: McQ on Monday, October 22, 2007

The New York Times has decided that opposition to illegal immigration has to be based in race hatred. It couldn't possibly be based in anything else:
Think of America’s greatest historical shames. Most have involved the singling out of groups of people for abuse. Name a distinguishing feature — skin color, religion, nationality, language — and it’s likely that people here have suffered unjustly for it, either through the freelance hatred of citizens or as a matter of official government policy.

We are heading down this road again. The country needs to have a working immigration policy, one that corresponds to economic realities and is based on good sense and fairness. But it doesn’t. It has federal inertia and a rising immigrant tide, and a national mood of frustration and anxiety that is slipping, as it has so many times before, into hatred and fear. Hostility for illegal immigrants falls disproportionately on an entire population of people, documented or not, who speak Spanish and are working-class or poor. By blinding the country to solutions, it has harmed us all.

The evidence can be seen in any state or town that has passed constitutionally dubious laws to deny undocumented immigrants the basics of living, like housing or the right to gather or to seek work. It’s in hot lines for citizens to turn in neighbors. It’s on talk radio and blogs. It’s on the campaign trail, where candidates are pressed to disown moderate positions. And it can be heard nearly every night on CNN, in the nativist drumming of Lou Dobbs, for whom immigration is an obsessive cause.
Of course, this doesn't come as a particular surprise to me. Making it a race problem, or an ethnicity problem is the easy way to argue their case. It is an old tried and true template which, just as the NYT does, harkens back to darker periods of our history. But playing that card ignores the real problems that illegal immigration bring to this country.

I don't disagree with the call for a solution. I don't disagree with those who claim we need to streamline the system or those calling for a vastly better "guest worker" program. I don't have a problem with letting in more legal immigrants than we do now. I have no problem with immigrants or their race, nationality or religion, quite frankly. It just doesn't matter to me. What does matter is control of the process because as the title of the post suggests, otherwise we're headed for a train wreck.

I don't want 12 to 20 million people to have to hide in the shadows. OTOH, I don't want those 12 to 20 million people using facilities and benefits paid for by legal immigrants and citizens. And while I sympathize with them and their desire to better their lives, the situation they find themselves in and their willingness to accept both skilled and unskilled work at rock bottom prices has effected the wage scales. I don't begrudge them their wages but I also don't pretend that they have no effect. I don't consider them criminals, but I also don't think they should be here because they are a drain on our system.

None of those concerns has a thing to do with their race, their nationality or their religion. The "they" I speak of could just as easily be white English protestants as brown Mexican catholics. What they are is irrelevant to the effect they have.

If we weren't taxed and required to support very expensive social programs, I wouldn't have a problem in the world (other than security) with "open borders". I'd welcome those who wish to come here peacefully and find work. And I'll say again, one of the things we need to do and do quickly is implement such a system which makes that a reality.

But I am sick and tired of those like the NYT who claim opposition to illegal immigration is latent (and not so latent) racism and that is all. It's a shallow and thoughtless analysis which denies the complexity of the situation for pat and easy answers which allow those making them to demonize the opposition. I'd like to say such nonsense is unworthy of the New York Times, but anymore, that's just a claim I just can't make.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I actually caught Lou Dobbs (the secondary target of the Times editorial) last night (I can’t remember the last time I saw his program) and I was favorably impressed with his take on Eliot Spitzer.

"Arrogance of power" would describe Spitzer’s behavior, but it doesn’t go far enough. His arrogance and his power have to be taken separately to be understood. First he is a megalomaniac, who has long craved power without showing any symptoms of principles. He appears to simply see himself as personally powerful, in need of a great deal of political power (inclusive of the police power), and in need of no obstacles in exercising that power. With that he is doubly arrogant, a condition that he will gladly redouble if challenged.

His fall is not long off, and it will be hard. New York state government is a bizarre catacombs of treachery and corruption, but Spitzer has found its limit.

The New York Times editorial page, now under the infantile direction of Andrew Rosenthal, is likewise testing the envelope of self-parody.
Written By: Martin McPhillips
It’s racists like Lou Dobbs, NYS County Clerks and 65% of likely voters:

"A new Zogby Interactive poll finds 65% of New York’s likely voters are opposed to Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to eliminate the requirement that drivers provide a Social Security card to obtain a New York State driver license – a slight increase from the 58% who disagreed with the proposal in a Zogby New York telephone poll earlier this month. Nearly half (47%) of Democrats are against Spitzer’s proposal, while 92% of Republicans are opposed.
County clerks around the state have been vocally opposed to Spitzer’s proposal, some saying that even if the new policy receives funding, they will refuse to issue driver licenses to applicants who cannot provide a valid Social Security card."

Women, children, and, tragically, "no fault" policy holders hit hardest.

Written By: tao9
URL: http://
The other 35% will come around when they find out that a NY Driver’s License will no longer be accepted as proof of anything.
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
I too am tired of the "racist" pejorative.

I have no doubt that there are bigots among those who oppose illegal immigration. But I also have no doubt that the bigots are under 5% of the anti-illegal-immigration crowd. (I’m being careful when I allow for 5%; if I went only by my own personal interactions and experience, I’d have said 0%.)

The primary emotion of people who are against illegal-immigration is not hatred, except perhaps of their government’s fecklessness.

No, their primary feeling is a frustrating sense of injustice, of unfairness, of wrongdoing which is not merely bad because it is wrong, but which is outrageous because it is flagrant, egregious, strutting, proud of its disregard of the law.

THAT is the emotion behind the picket-sign saying, "What part of ILLEGAL do you not understand?"

To put it another way: If you set aside the hypothetical 5% who are bigots, the remaining 95% of persons who oppose illegal immigration are "Rule-Of-Law Types." They like their rules to be set out fair-and-square at the beginning of the game, and no sneaky changing the rules in the middle of the game. It is the violation of this basic ethic of fair play which outrages them.

I think I speak for most of them when I say the following:

"If you’re hardworking and well-intentioned, we WANT you here. Most of the requirements we make of you (learn the language, obey the laws) are as much for your benefit as our own. (We don’t want you stuck jobless or in prison any more than you want to be stuck there!)

"But one of the customs here is to obey the laws, even the inconvenient ones. We — or, at least, the classier ones among us — don’t run red lights, even at 2AM when nobody else is at the intersection. That is the type of people we are. That is why we have such affection for those immigrants who patiently wait in line to do it the legal way.

"In short, we want to find a reason to love you! But we ask that you show us the courtesy of signing the guest register on your way in.

"For when you disregard our laws, you spit in our faces, for we are the ones (through our representatives) who made those laws. We know they’re imperfect, even deeply flawed. Even so, we expect you to wait at the red-light, even when it’s 2AM and there are no other headlights for miles. Even when it’s two miles to the Rio Grande and there are a hundred employers clamoring for workers. Yes, even then.

"And when our faces have been spat in repeatedly for so long, we, as hosts, begin to tire of it, and our generosity wears thin. We are not bigots, we are not haters. We are gracious hosts, as generations of earlier immigrants will testify.

"But our gracious hospitality merits some corresponding courtesy and respect from those we’ve welcomed among us. It is only reasonable. And should our neighbors be unwilling to show us this reasonable courtesy and respect, it is entirely just that we should close our doors, for a season."
Written By: R.C.
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