Friday, May 14, 2010

Asking The Wrong Questions in Arizona

Arizona has begun their own  'immigration enforcement program',  stopping anyone who appears to be in the state illegally  (that is:  if they look like Mexicans)  and requiring them to prove their right to be where they are.

Now, don't get me wrong:  my position on  'the powers of states'  (I hate the meaningless term 'states rights')  is that Arizona may legally do what it is they're doing.  I just think it's a remarkably poor idea.  It's another one of those all-too-common examples of the syndrome I call  'ask the wrong question;  get the wrong answer'.

The  'wrong question'  in this case focuses on  'immigration', and it will generate the wrong answer:  send 'em back where they came from.

If you ask any of those  'illegal immigrants'  why they come here, they'll tell you it's because they want to be able to support their families.  Few...  make that 'none'...  will tell you they've come here to get on the welfare wagon.  Similarly,  few of those in favor of Arizona's draconian new  'Papieren, Bitte'  regime will admit that what's behind all this is an attempt to keep those  'illegal aliens'  from using up all of our valuable public services:  police, fire, food stamps, unemployment compensation, etc.  Yet, that is the baseline problem.  The supporters of that new Arizona law firmly  (and in their own minds, justifiably)  believe that those 'benefits' are for the use of citizens, dammitol...

So...  we frame the problem in terms of  "they're doing something illegal and we have to stop all this law-breaking behavior".  This allows us to completely ignore the underlying problem:  that we make it attractive for slackers to live in this country.

Again, I'm not saying those illegal-border-crossers are coming here to stick their snouts into the welfare trough.  It may be true, but I'm not saying that.  It's irrelevant, in any case.  What is relevant is that we American citizens stick our snouts into the welfare trough with a frightening regularity.  Given the kinds of jobs those illegal-border-crossers typically work at, there also seems to me some room to doubt they've just come here for 'the easy life'...  although it's almost certainly easier than what they're used to south of the border.

Raise your hand if your ancestors arrived here as immigrants.  Hmmm....  there's a lot of you out there...  OK,  should we have sent all those immigrants back?  No?  Why?  Because they applied for entry 'legally' during a time when there were no 'quotas' for immigration?  (And, surprise! no passports, either, which did not become 'mandatory' until 1941!)  At a time when anyone who knocked on our door was allowed in as long as they weren't carrying plague or a felony record?  That's not the way the world is today, but I'm sure you know that.

Today, we require new immigrants to apply months or years in advance, go through a lengthy investigation, fill out a mountain of forms.  The process is a pain-in-the-ass...  deliberately.

Given all the good things immigrants have done for this country in the past few centuries, why do we now make it such a PITA?  Now we're asking the right questions, or we're about to.

The process is now a royal PITA because unchecked immigration could overwhelm our welfare system.  This was not the case when your great-grandfather/mother arrived from The Old Country.  Back then we didn't have a welfare system to overwhelm, yet people came to us nevertheless.  Why?

They came because America was The Land Of Opportunity.

In the absence of an all-pervasive welfare system, it would be again.

Are you ready to start asking the right questions?

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