The Immigrants On The Roof

Back in the late 90s I worked with a framing crew from Central America in Atlanta. I have nothing but fond memories of the opportunity, and enjoyed the experience very much. I played pickup soccer about 3 times a week with people from Latin America, Europe, Africa, and occasionally even some Americans. It was a great opportunity to meet other people from other cultures. Whatever else you think about soccer, it is the most universal game on the planet.

I’ve seen estimates that as much as 6% of the U.S. population is made up of illegal immigrants. I, for one, have no problem believing that number. Driving by most road crews, or construction sites, landscape maintenance crews, or hotel cleaning staffs, it’s not hard to for me to accept that a significant part of our workforce is made up of people who came here from other countries to work. And from what I’ve witnessed, they are hard working people, with a strong work ethic. I respect that.

I recall a Cuban worker proudly telling me that his son was born in America. On that same job, some of the guys had their young sons, not even teenagers, on the roof with us, learning the trade. While it presents a workplace safety issue that probably shouldn’t be ignored, it also showed me that they were instilling their children with work values that I admire.

What can’t be ignored, is that our immigration policies to date have not prevented illegal immigration, and maybe even encouraged entire segments of our workforce to be predominantly composed of non-native workers. You’d be hard pressed to find someone fluent in English on many of these crews.

With recent news out of Arizona, there is also a side of the illegal immigration story that hasn’t been addressed; a murdered rancher who for years had asked for something to be done, kidnappings, shootouts, drug running. The Arizona immigration enforcement law is unfair, to the law enforcement workers who will now be pressed to work harder to enforce a law that the federal government simply hasn’t been able to handle. For our federal officials to say that what they’re doing is working is for me to doubt my own eyes, even two thousand miles from the Arizona border. No doubt the majority of illegal immigrants are honest, hardworking economic refugees just making a living. That our foreign policy hasn’t been able to address the problems in other countries no doubt has something to do with the problem. But along with the hard-working immigrants, we contend with the fallout. When the crops freeze, the immigrants are suddenly without work, and now rely on humanitarian aid. Add to this, some 300,000 babies being born to illegal immigrants in our hospitals every year. This is the gamble we take alongside of the immigrants when we don’t do anything to address our border problem.

I don’t know much about the legal immigration process, but it’s apparently not the preferred method of gaining access to the American workforce. Other than observing that the majority of our recent immigrants appear to be non-English speaking Hispanics, there is little else we definitively know about them. They are here by their own resolve, and by our own willingness to allow them to be.

So what is the problem that needs to be addressed most? I certainly don’t want to see mass deportation, but when I see protests against legitimate businesses, or angry crowds in the streets, I have to admit, I’m a little uncomfortable. I don’t think they deserve to be granted citizenship just by virtue of flaunting our laws. I don’t have a problem with the immigrants who are here just doing an honest days work for an honest days pay. I’m inspired by them, quite honestly. But when I see others agitating change, it doesn’t endear me to their cause, it alienates me.

I don’t have a problem with the illegal aliens working on the roof, but I have no time for angry mobs of criminals on the street. The path to citizenship should be through industrious contribution to society as a whole, as measured by a country’s citizens. Angry protests in the streets demanding something not entitled is no way to gain my support.

History of Immigration Policy and Consequences

Some links on U.S. immigration history. If I get around to it, I’d like to see what the results of the different policies were. Unintended consequences seem to be the rule when it comes to government policy. I think before we charge headlong into an immigration reform debate, we should look at what we are reforming, what the results of those policies has been. My predisposition is that the policies are not as much what need reforming, as the adherence to them. Reforming a policy that we have no intention of adhering to seems like a waste of effort.

My initial impression is that the reform being called for in the streets is nothing more than demanding amnesty without regard to the violated and unenforced policies themselves. If our policy is to ignore the laws, then grant amnesty to those who broke them, then there is no point in giving politicians photo ops for changing laws that will then be ignored both by violators and enforcers.

note: Some of the links here seem a little off of my own sense of fairness, but I post them here for interest in the discussion. Numbers, in particular, seem to be a constant contentious point. Before quoting them, look into them. And just because a site claims they are inaccurate, don’t forget that the people disputing them also have a bias.

There are a number of sites that I consider racist, or nearly so, discussing this issue. I try not to link to anyone advocating racism, but at the same time, ethnicity has a historical role in our country’s immigration policy. If the numbers 73% of 20 Million are remotely accurate, ethnicity plays a role in our current immigration discussion. A couple terms in the democrats health insurance tax law, “linguistic and cultural competency” come to mind. Laws are being written today, in my view unconstitutionally, with racial preferences. If our government is willing to write laws with racial bias, it is inescapably part of the discussion. Indeed, one need look no further than questions 8 and 9 on the 2010 U.S. Census to see that ethnicity is increasingly becoming a determining factor in our current government policy.

http://is.gd/bJNa7 summary.
Another summary

interesting tidbit:

The act of 1802 reaffirmed that every State and Territorial court was considered a district court within the meaning of the laws pertaining to naturalization

1790 Naturalization Act

Immigration Act of 1924

The Path To Suicide – Essay On Immigration

Cost of Illegal Immigration (remember to check multiple sources when numbers are being cited, and it doesn’t hurt to check into the sources.)

Cost of illegal immigration, CA, 2004

Statistics (actually just a bookmark for further reading when I have time, but it looks interesting).

How many?

I’m a little wary of this site, but they’ve been talking about immigration for a long time.

Public Charge Doctrine

update:

Numbers http://immigrationcounters.com/

Anchor babies: “Born in the U.S., and *not* subject to foreign foreign power”

According to an immigration lawyer, less than 4% of illegal aliens are deported.

Equality Trumps Diversity

I was having coffee with a friend this morning, and she commented that she didn’t feel there was enough diversity in this area, and she wanted her kids to experience more diversity growing up. I understand and agree with her in part, feeling that I benefited from spending the early years of my own life in an area where we were the minority.

But it also made me realise that diversity should not be the goal, as much as equality should be. There is diversity around here, but it isn’t exactly integrated. There is a Haitian-Cuban community right across the street from where we were having coffee. The habitat for humanity homes are almost exclusively Haitian-Hispanic. I see plenty of people of all skin shades on the streets. It’s not that we’re not diverse enough.

I grew up in the late sixties early seventies. Civil rights, women’s lib were the big movements of the time. When I asked my dad why he raised us in a neighbourhood that was predominately black, his answer was that we were living in the days of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, we were supposed to all be equals now. He also said that growing up during the war, he saw that blacks weren’t treated well, and he thought it was wrong. When I asked him why we moved, he said that it wasn’t fair to the kids being beaten up every day because we were white.

When I entered the work force, I remember that almost every help wanted ad included some variation of “equal opportunity employer, minorities and women encouraged to apply”, or even, “given preference”. I remember working in office environment when sexual discrimination was a huge concern, men were taught to behave with special consideration for women.

In my work history, I’ve been the only white guy, the only English-speaker, the only man amongst some of my co-workers. For the most part, I had no complaints. I did feel at times that I was raised under different rules, but I’ve never felt that my gender or race made me any more or any less capable of most of the work I’ve done, or how I approached doing it.

I realised after my morning coffee discussion that the way we use the word diversity these days could almost be defined as “biased against white males”. Nowhere is this more evident than in our political discourse, where Republicans are derisively derided as the party of “old white guys”. Never mind that we have special interest groups aided by millions of taxpayer dollars to promote every demographic except for the white male, in political discussion, many believe that the problem is white guys are privileged, and any one else disadvantaged. We should not create public policy based on inclusiveness, or exclusiveness of any demographic. It is the opposite of “leveling the field”, it creates a discriminatory basis of how we treat one another. It’s not diversity to treat someone differently because they are or aren’t a white male, it’s discrimination. I think public policy based on diversity is inherently corruptible for political purpose, whereas equality makes for a much stronger foundation of how we treat each other.

I don’t have kids of my own, but I think the important lesson to teach them, regardless of the demographic of the neighbourhood they are in, is to treat people equally and fairly. As the old joke goes, “you’re unique, just like everybody else”.

Addendum:

Suppose The United States enforced the same kind of diversity requirements on aid to somewhere like Haiti, that the aid would only be available if it could be shown that a certain diversity benchmark were being met. Any law that is passed here in The United States should be held to that standard. It wouldn’t be fair to impose a law like that in Haiti, and it’s not fair to do it in The United States.

“Not All Discussions About Race Are Racist”

The difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness seems to be the source of many problems.

There’s plenty of people who do things out of shock value. The difference is whether it’s in a respectful manner. When I see a group of people lazily jaywalking across a street, deliberately ignoring traffic, as opposed to what I would consider normal behaviour of hurrying out of the way, I don’t think “wow, they’re respectfully asserting their right to jaywalk outside of the crosswalk”, I think “wow, there’s yet another example of someone who has a total lack of respect for everyone else.”

It’s entirely believable that some kids like to go to an area specifically with the intent of shocking the locals. But when the shock value goes beyond their mere presence, to outright assaults, then the problem lies with the group that has deliberately chosen to be offensive.

Personally, I don’t accept as valid any socio-economic excuse for a culture that cultivates aggressive behaviour. It’s simply irresponsible to do so.

The quote is from one of the many comments regarding recent flash mobs that reportedly have gotten a little too violent. My posting it here doesn’t mean I agree or disagree with the article or comments.

Further discussion on the subject from a forum..

Maybe we should just do away with marriage?

I’m not saying what’s right or wrong, or telling anyone how they should live their lives. I’m pretty sure homosexuality has been shown to have higher incidences of negative health consequences. I don’t feel it’s my place to tell hospitals who they can or cannot allow to visit patients. I certainly think compassion is the right guiding principle. Hospital infection rates are said to be rising. It’s something to keep in mind while catering to the politically connected, perhaps at the expense of safety of the rest. I’m not saying this to try to fear monger, I’m saying it out of the reality.

So, this brings up a point, to me. Maybe we should just do away with any government recognition of any types of civil unions. Maybe each person should just be judged as an individual. No more joint filing of taxes. Just individuals, on a case by case basis. No special allowances for spouses, no health insurance. Is that what the politically correct want?

Family is so passe’ these days, any way. Isn’t it?