Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Immigration or Exploitation?

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or
birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all.

We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people." Theodore Roosevelt

Saturday at a local shrine, I talked to a couple of young women who were manning a booth for 'no more deaths' and informing passersby of their concern about a law declaring it criminal to give humanitarian aid to certain people caught out in the desert even if dying of thirst. It's okay to call the Border Patrol but not okay to give the dehydrated person help with water or food if it is suspected they are coming up here illegally. Not okay to leave such water out.

I agreed with the young women that humanitarian aid is not the equivalent of the
coyotes, the name for those who bring people across for money. Is it equivalent to the underground railway bringing men and women from slavery to freedom before slavery was outlawed in the United States? There seems to me a big difference between being freed from a slavery you didn't choose and just going north for more money and a better quality life.

From the standpoint of a mother, friend, caring human being, I don't think we should arrest those who provide food and water to the suffering. At least not if they are not also transporting the illegal aliens. (and yes, I use that word and not undocumented worker. To me the latter is politically correct talk and I find it offensive. They are illegally up here and they are from another country.

I could easily write a book on this but trying to keep it short, I see the problems but not cost-free solutions-- not for our country or the ones who came up here illegally. There is a cost also, however, for continuing as we are. Arizona border towns have changed since I first came here over 40 years ago to more violent, unfriendly places. The country between Tucson and the border is more of a no-man's land where those who cross illegally make it hard on the ranchers by cutting fences, draining water tanks. The ranchers have struck back by patrolling their own land and holding people they suspect as being illegally here for the Border Patrol. There have been shots exchanged on both sides.

Many of the students across the United States, who are skipping classes and raising Mexican flags, apparently want no immigration laws. Where would that end if every country had no borders? Or is it just rich countries that should have none? Some would say that's utopia but human nature being what it is, laws being those that individual countries choose for themselves, property rights what most of us expect even with private property, no borders seems like no solution.

Attempted answers have failed in the past. In 1986, President Reagan signed an amnesty for illegals in the country. I have heard 4 million took advantage of it. Reagan claimed that we would then prevent more illegal employment. Now there are supposedly 11 million illegals in this country and the demand is we stop enforcing border laws. What demand follows?

Some Hispanics in California, Arizona and New Mexico are talking about taking back what they consider was taken illegally from them and calling the new country Aztlan which is supposedly a mythic land where the Aztecs emerged before going south.

I know I will sound anything but like the liberal some assume I am; but since there is no going backward in time to undo mistakes, my solution would be hard-nosed. Protect our borders in whatever way we can, penalize employers who hire illegals with serious consequences, dry up the jobs and that means for those already here. And yes, I'd send back the ones that have come illegally and let them apply like all other immigrants. This country takes in about 400,000 people a year legally. We could give those who went back down special consideration if they had jobs already up here, but to allow them to profit by breaking the law to get here, how does anyone win with that? The last amnesty only encouraged others to come up illegally assuming they would eventually get the same thing. I know what I said sounds heartless; yes, it would be very costly in emotional angst, uprisings and money; but there is such a thing as tough love where you do something that seems hard because you know the other path leads to worse consequences.

Business, however, doesn't want hard-nosed solutions. Even the stock market analysts predict we need cheap and exploited labor or the stock market will fall. I believe we could send back the 11 million illegals (some say we couldn't) but, I believe also, the will is not here in the American people. The cheap labor is too appealing to some and for others it's compassion for those who have established homes and lives here.

The serious problem I see is that when you encourage people to enter here illegally-- and by not enforcing the laws of employment nor protecting our border, we are encouraging it-- the end result is you are benefitting from the exploitation of one people for another people's gain. That's not right nor is it in the end even smart.

This nation (and many others) has followed this path for many years-- exploiting an ethnic group from blacks, to Chinese and now Latinos that we use for their cheap labor and don't grant citizenship rights to-- or do our darnedest not to. That sort of thing has to end somewhere but not sure it will... or maybe not until the consequences of such abuse have become catastrophic and it's too late.


JasonSpalding said...

How ironic is it that those in government make the argument that illegal immigrants are just willing to do the jobs Americans don't want to do when the one job the government seems to be trying hard to avoid doing is dealing with illegal immigration.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

You make a good case, Rain. I can't say that I agree with Teddy Roosevelt but I take his quote in the context of the times. Blacks were here legally and so were American Indians, but they sure as hell weren't treated equally, for example.

Something has to be done, but damned if I know what it is. I sure know that the liberal in me isn't going to deny food and water in the middle of the desert, or call the INS if I'm aware of someone here illegally.

I'm trying to keep up with all the pros and cons, which surely abound here in So Cal since it is estimated that approximately 50% of our population is now Hispanic of some sort. I do believe that when one comes to America they shouldn't have to give up their own ethnic customs or language, but I do believe that they should know enough English to read a ballot and vote in English. That is not a liberal viewpoint. And though I admire the people who are standing up for their heritages by showing the flags of the countries they came from, the media didn't cover as well all the people who were displaying American flags.

As for the minority who want to take California, AZ and Texas back and call it Aztlan, that's just youth speaking with their idealism and penchant for revolution--filled with anger and flaunting authority, they are shouting out of their buttholes. But, I guess it must make them feel powerful when they largely feel like they have to hide.

Again, I don't know the answer, but I hope whatever it is, we can do it compassionately somehow and not have Minuteman taking the law into their own hands and protecting the border.

Instead of targeting the illegals, I wish we could somehow get a handle on the drug cartels who regularly bring the bad shit across the border illegally. Maybe that's apples and oranges, but somehow or other I equate the illegal drug trade as being even more worthy of Minutemen at the border.

I'm tired, I'm raving, and I feel so damned helpless--ripped in two by morality and compassion versus the letter of the law--which is also important. I'm listening most closely to the writers and pols who are talking middle ground instead of violence.

Rain said...

I agree that it's a hard issue and much confused. We have not as a nation treated minorities well period and I thought what Roosevelt was saying was that we should-- when they truly want to be part of our country-- which to him, if they came here, they should.

If we ended up with mini countries within a country how does that work? We are finding out as that is what American Indians are currently claiming on their reservations-- that they are sovereign with their own laws. South Dakota is getting a taste of that right now regarding the abortion law they just passed.

Our history has not been one to be proud of in terms of how we treat minorities period (that is a problem anywhere in the world-- some humans treat others poorly when they can. Read any of Kristof's columns and it makes you sick to your stomach especially about the treatment and rights of women in Pakistan).

The immigration issue is like so many complex subjects-- no way to often even see what is going on. We have 7.8 million Americans unemployed-- are they unwilling to do the work migrants do or is it that they won't for the same pay-- which the migrant eventually wouldn't either as they become citizens. I think by turning our back on it though, we have made it harder. And some is the responsibility of the American people to care and think hard on it, as frankly people oftenlike cheap prices that this situation has brought about, but it has created an illegal underground with no rights in a country that claims to believe in democracy. And if we declare all currently here have amnesty as is being proposed, what stops more from coming and taking the low level jobs illegally still? I think as long as employment is available here at higher wages than 'there' wherever there is, this is an ongoing issue.

Ingineer66 said...

good comments all. Yes we have a history of treating minorities poorly in this country. Ask the Irish and the Chinese in the 1800's. But pretty much every group has had that problem in history. European Jews, White South Africans before they took over from the British, Palestinians, Asians all over the world with other Asians, Different African tribes. It happens and it is not good, but today we cannot run our government based on the fact that we have had some problems in the past. We need strong leadership and to look forward not back.

And I agree the so called war on drugs is very similar to this. If there were no demand for drugs in the US then there would be no smugglers bringing them into this country. If we are truly going to have a war on drugs then fight it like a war. Get serious about it. But we dont have the stomach in this country to get serious about anything anymore. If a problem cant be solved in 30 or 60 minutes like on a TV show we just want to stick our heads in the sand and forget about it.

And another thing both of these issues are related to another pet peave of mine. Disrespect for the law. Back in the day when the only laws on the books were important stuff, people seemed to have respect for the law. Now that there are 5000 new laws passed a year in California and most of them are stupid feel good things for politicians pandering to one group or another people have lost respect for all laws including the important ones.

I know a guy from Saudi Arabia and he said "There is nothing like watching a guy get his head chopped off for a crime that you were thinking about committing".

Lets get serious abuot enforcing the laws we have and not talking about what new ones we need to pass so we can ignore those too.

Wow that was a wondering rant.

Maria said...

I am so glad you have expressed your feelings and views. All though we differ in many ways, I appreciate the opportunity to see the problem from another viewpoint.

Rain said...

I also always enjoy hearing other people's viewpoints, Maria. I believe respectful disagreement and debate is healthy. It helps us all and when I had that conversation with those girls at El Tiradito, we didn't agree either; but we could at least listen to each other. Sometimes we all have to agree to disagree. We are in tough times with a lot of very perplexing problems.

Parapluie said...

The illegal immigrants are willing slaves. They are here accepting pay below what we could live on only because they come from places with even less opportunity. Remember the Statue of Libery expresing the mission of the United States as expressed in "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." "Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land..."
I wish we had a policy of acceptance and put our money where our original mission was instead of war. I think if we were true to our ideals, terorists would be turned to friends.
If only my day dream could be.

Ingineer66 said...

If I could be so bold as to say this in Rain's blog, but Maria please feel free to express your dissenting opinion here. I may not agree with you, but I love good political debate. Rain and I disagree on many issues and have very lively conversations, we just happen to mostly agree on this issue. That being said, parapluie what color is the sky in your world? What makes you think that if we let the terrorists keep blowing us up and killing us they will suddenly start liking us? These whackos want to kill everyone who doesnt believe exactly like they want everyone to live like we are in the 10th century except themselves of course they want to live like oppulant kings.

Winston said...

Excellent! I stole this... but credited you...

Rain said...

thank you, winston *laughing*

and parapluie, we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I've said what I believe but understand many disagree. We do allow in 400,000 a year legally in a time where 7.8 million of our citizens are out of work. This may all have implications way beyond the ones we've discussed.

I do believe in borders and also private property rights...

All opinions are welcome here and good discussion involves varying viewpoints as ingineer said

Parapluie said...

It is a mixed up world we live in. I think it is the nature of man to not trust the outsider. And mistrust is something both sides must give up. How to increase trust in our world situation is looking almost hopeless. Anybody have any ideas on how to increase hope and trust? Just read in Hadassah magazine how some Arab nurses at the Hadassah hospital are dedicated to healing all patients they receive - Jewish Arab or other.

Rain said...

I think this is an issue of boundaries more than trust. I have not heard many people say that the hispanics they know are not people like anybody else (the coyotes who bring them and drugs across are not the same type). All states give the illegal entrant medical care in the hospitals-- at some local cost

The issue is should a country have legal and respected boundaries? Should a people? Do we all have that right or not?

What has happened here is many businesses would prefer not to allow in more legal immigrants because the workers then have rights. The ones who come across illegally do not. So is this nation doing right to allow that to continue? One group exploiting another so the rest of us, who are guilty by connection, get cheaper prices and higher stock market? If we need more laborers, upping the numbers legally immigrating or issuing more green cards is the answer. When we encourage the breaking of one law for profit, when does it end?

Parapluie said...

We differ here. I hear you Rain believing that "Fences make good neighbors." I believe global community without boundaries is an idea to imagine in a kind of a brainstorming way of thinking.

Rain said...

*laughing* yes we do, without good fences, my neighbors would be furious with me as the cows and sheep ate their flowers and stomped their lawns in unplanned ways. Even with fences, that has happened. and I'm not overly fond of the neighbor's dog coming over and chasing my sheep which he does whenever he can dismiss their boundaries. So far he hasn't killed any but he will someday if they cannot keep him home.

If we take the question of boundaries farther, would you let say a Mexican family move in with you? Basically if we opened our borders totally, (which btw they haven't... try getting a job down there when you are not a citizen. You have to prove in many countries that no citizen could do the job to work there) anyway if we did, there are so many down there who are poverty stricken. What if they would like to live in your home? Say 3 families maybe. Where do you draw the line and say you have any rights to a boundary?

It is true though I live with many boundaries in my life. Those I chose and those I did not. I would have a hard time in a world with none. I have not seen respectful boundaries as wrong but some of that is probably my family heritage

Ingineer66 said...

I like the idea of Palestinian nurses helping anyone in need whether Arab or Jew. The problem is when some whacko Arabs kill the nurses for helping the "other" side. They killed an Arab man there because he had fallen in love with an Israeli woman. And the whacko Jews are not much better. They killed their own prime minister because he was too soft on Arabs. I personally do not have a problem with anyone who wants to come here and work whether Mexican or Chinese or Martian. But I have a problem with millions coming here illegally then expecting us to learn Spanish and cater to them.

Parapluie said...

In animal husbandry style farms we need fences for sure. So wouldn't the world be better off without domestic sheep and cows and no fences? Fences are a false security blanket. The fences do not work for dairy cow manure which was dumped on Truax Creek again today when my husband checked the fish traps. I thought my husband was going to explode. He gets the run around from governmental agencies. He is trying to pressure them saying his life is at risk counting fish in tributaries to the Willamette River. Fences are not enough for our agricultural predicament. The dairy farmers are getting the wink from government and they put milk products in all kinds of foods. I am not sure really how healthy it is for peoples of the world who came from more southerly origins where they have few cows and less ability to digest cows milk.
As for having a hispanic family or two or three living with me. Ah yes, I used to live in a neighborhood predominately hispanic in Berkeley, California in the 50's. As I get older that might be good only I would change the architectfure of my home with a central court and verandas and private quarters. You know we could be living with all ages and have privacy. That would be nice indeed to live a little like hispanics in our golden years.

Rain said...

You don't eat meat? I didn't realize that; but for me, who does eat meat and likes to raise animals responsibly, I believe in livestock, grassfed beef and lamb-- and fences. I have them also to protect my roses, flowers and vegetable gardens from the deer. I tried everything before I gave into the fence-- sacks of blood meal, sprays, lights that came on when movement was nearby, but it was them or forget flowers.

As for the other, we will again have to agree to disagree. I don't believe in communal living, like my privacy too much.

I might do a blog one of these days on boundaries in our lives-- all kinds. Interesting topic to consider whether such are good or bad. Do we learn to say no and it's positive or should we say yes to everything someone else wants?

Ingineer66 said...

I think a lot of the anger toward the Mecicans is a generational thing. When I was younger there were not enough of them to be a threat to me or my livelihood. But when I talk to my teenage son or even young professionals in their mid to late 20's they really have issues with all the Mexicans and that attitude that they show towards the whites here.

If we are not going to have agiculture then what are the people going to eat. This country feeds a lot of people around the world. Now if maybe we could get half the worlds population to commit suicide or at least half the people in California we could all live in harmony in our utopian society. Any volunteers?

Parapluie said...

Rain, I do eat a moderate portion of meat. I believe we humans need animal protein in moderation. Some of my relatives are more consciensious stewards of the earth and live their beliefs in the UK and Australia. I do admire them. I am pretty callous and have had sheep pets with names and then I ate them. My children would not eat our sheeps lamb chops.
I know you made attempts to save your flowers and garden without making a fence. Your fence is a beautiful decorative screen and chain link gate between your home and the livestock. There are other alternatives. Put your garden on a cabana supported by stilts or enlarge your home with long arms enclosing a central open court yard like a Spanish mission.
Utopia is not my mission. Immagintion and dreams are important and needed in the pursuit of mankind's destiny. And it is fun to dream of what could be. Maybe out of all these day dreams there will be a seed that grows.

Rain said...

I don't consider it wrong to eat meat, Parapluie, but have become a believer in producing it myself as a responsible steward and giving the animals a good life and death-- not everyone can do that but all could try to buy from people who do. It's much harder to do than ship them off to a feedlot or buy meat from a grocery store.

Personally I have never been a big eater of flesh. It doesn't agree with me to eat too much fish, chicken or beef and I rarely eat pork. I agree with you that it's important to eat some though for good diet

As for dreams-- I am a believer in them very much but just worry when someone who is experimenting with a dream makes it into a law and the consequences can be catastrophic as we have recently seen. I will write more on dreams. Getting a dream can turn into a nightmare and yet to live without dreams would be sterile.

As always, I appreciate your thoughtful responses here. We don't always agree but it's nice we can discuss such issues and get to deeper understandings.