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 24, 2010

Politics again

and this time it might be lefties who want to come back another day as I'd hate to lose all my readers over my political views and as a moderate I know that is possible as I tend to agree with conservatives on some things and liberals on most.
The thing is I don't even enjoy writing about politics. This particular issue is one that makes me sad more than angry. Writing about it is a lose lose for me as it offends some readers and doesn't begin to convince the others; but I feel an obligation to address things I think are important-- popular viewpoint or not.

Every so often an issue arises that puts me squarely on the opposite side of an issue from my liberal friends. United States border control is one of these. Arizona has stepped firmly into the immigration mess and aroused the anger of liberals and yes, surprising as it might be to liberals, some conservatives all the way across the world. [Civil Rights Advocates Attack Arizona's Immigration Law]The assumption is that this new law demanding people carry proof of citizenship is about racial prejudice, and Arizona will have to pay the price by boycotts and the anger of the country for what it has done.

The thing is the issue of immigration has not been addressed by the country. Most of those who want an open border with no controls haven't stopped to think what that will mean. It sounds noble and charitable even to open your door to everyone. I am not sure it's very practical.

Others have less noble reasons. They want open borders for reasons I have mentioned before-- it's more profitable not to address it. The result of the United States policy is something that has been escalating in a very frightening way. Mexico's problems are not the problems of Wisconsin, but they are the problems of all the border states. Arizona is on the front line of this issue. It's not abstract down there and frankly it impacts legal citizens no matter what their origins.

When you see things like-- Phoenix kidnapping capital of the country? or Seven Ciudad Juarez policemen killed in ambush, I suspect it doesn't worry people who don't live along the border. Heck those kidnappings only happen to those involved in the drug traffic. The fact that in Mexico kidnappings also can involve successful citizens isn't worrisome. Hasn't happened here yet. It might not even worry those who live in what they consider safe regions of Arizona. It should.

I don't really know that the new law that will take effect in August will pass Constitutional muster. It might not be a fair or good approach. They estimate there are almost half a million Mexican people in Arizona illegally. Many more than that in California. Farm Boss and I were guessing possibly a hundred thousand or so in Oregon (not all illegals come from south of the border) although many of those in agricultural work come and go. Statistically experts are guessing there may be as many as twelve million in the country as a whole.

Illegal immigrants got here because the border has not been protected. They, and those who buy illegal drugs, are part of what has been growing along the border as coyotes bring across human and illegal drug cargo. The end result has been escalating violence.

If we do make a path to legal citizenship, this alone won't change the illegal traffic at all. It will do what it did during Reagan's era-- legalize a lot of people who are already here. Their jobs and position in society will be replaced by new illegal citizens.

Sadly, there is a reason it's profitable to keep a considerable population here illegally -- it's called cheaper service and agricultural jobs. A lot of people profit from the illegals and they aren't all coyotes. Some just want a maid at a low wage or they want workers in their yard or they like cheap food.

I agree with what Obama said about this. What Arizona has done might have been wrong, might be unenforceable, definitely will hurt Arizona, but it happened because the federal government has failed to act.

Obama suggested a several prong approach which would mean stricter border control, a functional legal worker program, and a path to citizenship for those already here. Not all who work in the United States want to be citizens. A legal path to coming here for work would end the profit in at least that part of the coyote business. BUT if we don't stop the border traffic, the violence down there will spread.

When we let half a million people in say Arizona have citizenship, enable them to qualify for all the social programs that citizens can file for, we will find a big change in everything for awhile. Perhaps it will mean less access to doctors, more expensive groceries, but maybe it has to happen because other generations failed to act. If we don't control the border though, this problem will grow and legalizing people already here won't solve it.

Nobody on the left will probably like what I am going to say next, but I also think we have to end the policy of giving citizenship automatically to any person born in this country. It only serves to break apart families. I don't think you'd be automatically a citizen of any other country just for being born there. If at least one parent is a citizen, then your birth would make you one; but when it is as it is now, it lets a child be pulled apart from parents or people come across just to have their child born here. We can't undo what has been done with the current law, but we could change it for the future.

And I think we probably have to face national ID cards. Many countries in Europe, like France, already have such regulations and do request ID to be carried and shown when an official asks to see them. I resisted this idea, have felt it was going to be a government infringement on our freedom but without that then we are necessarily targeting only certain people for having to provide proof of citizenship.

There is evidently also something called veri something or other which could validate for anybody hiring someone whether they have a legal right to work here. It can be done if people want it done. With green cards permitting legally working here, people coming up won't have to use the coyotes. They also won't have to hide and be afraid of reporting it when they have been criminally victimized as the situation is now.

In Arizona there are many Hispanics who have lived there longer than any European settler. Everybody came from somewhere sometime. In my family some of them came in the 1800s and others in the 1600s but they all came over from somewhere. Immigration has been our history, but the thing is when it's illegal what is it doing to our country? When it involves a criminal class to bring in the people, what does that do to us? That is what Arizona has faced to so much condemnation.

When I go back to Arizona this time, I plan to take proof of my citizenship with me in my passport. Whenever I drive down toward the border, actually when I cross into Arizona, I can and have been asked for such ID. Anytime I have ever gone to Canada, I have had to carry birth certificates for the whole family (even before the law changed for getting back into the US requiring a passport). I don't feel it infringes on my freedoms to have it or to be asked to show it. I will have to get used to the idea that neither does a national ID card. I have not liked it one bit, but I like the alternative less.


mandt said...

As always Rain, no matter what position you take, it is with considerable thought and reasoned argument. That said, there is a thin line here that concerns us all and that is the living memory of Germany, wherein, at first, Jews had to register, then carry Juden identity cards, and ......so on until.
Just saying....

Rain said...

I understand that concern which is why I never wanted an ID card but on the other hand, I have a passport and it doesn't worry me to have that. I cannot visit any other country without it. I just don't see how this will be resolved without either ending all border control or recognizing we have to control employment in this country and our own citizenship. If we cannot, where does this go? We are not the only country with a border that we want to have respected. I also feel a real concern that currently we not only have this criminal element who are smuggling in people and drugs but worse we have a second class citizenry who cannot even go to the law if they are assaulted. That cannot be healthy, can it? Just giving citizenship won't solve the problem if we don't also deal with the work and border issues. Our country is already suffering from unemployment and a huge deficit. We are not in a strong position to deal with this. I just hope that as the federal government deals with it they don't play the political game to make points rather than considering what is really best to do.

MandT said...

You are absolutely right about the porous border! It boggles the mind that we spend trillions of dollars around the world in our marginally successful colonial adventures and refuse to seal the Mexican border and subject it to 'normal' trans national security. There must be a reason we have yet to fathom and I suspect it has to do with the overall success of cheap illegal labor. What a mess and what a terrible business when it comes to breaking up families over it. Further, the whole distraction of couching this fiasco in racist terms is unhelpful. Your conservative position on this, in any other age would be considered moderate and common sense. I agree with you in principle, but feel Arizona has sparked a populist racist reaction that obfuscates the question of legitimate state security.

Rain said...

Or maybe it will be the spark that is needed to do what the country should have done long ago. I agree though that it could go either way. Anybody though who knows the Mexican people knows they are mostly good, hard working and deserve better than they have gotten from our current set of laws. It's a difficult situation though and hits at a time when partisanship is hurting us a lot as a nation.

I really did think that what Obama said was a good start to doing the right things. He was a welcome breath of fresh air versus the hysteria the media is trying to whip up. And so many people follow that without really looking at the whole picture. Americans or maybe all humans are just so easily manipulated.

Always Question said...

As you point out, illegal immigration is a very complex issue. It's good for employers (cheap labor), for consumers (cheap groceries and labor), for smugglers, and even for government (uncommitted tax revenues).
Until the federal government gets serious about controlling our borders the big question is to what extremes do we want to go at a more local level. I have a picture in my mind of trying to sweep rising water away from my door as the rain continues.
If we were to use 21st century technology to immediately verify that a prospective employee's social security number wasn't already in use, that would be reasonable to me.
If we were to require all adults to carry a state issued ID card that met federal requirements, I could live with that. A national ID card would irritate the heck out me; I have a federal ID card - my retired military ID - and that had better be the only one I ever need within our borders.

Rain said...

I never minded so much the idea of carrying an extra card. I have plenty in my wallet as it is now (credit cards, US Parks golden passport, driver's license, two cards for insurance, AAA, concealed weapon permit, store cards, etc.); but it's worrying that it will be used to track where I go that I haven't liked. A lot depends on how much you trust the government (and very few of us trust the 'other' guys. But I don't know how else we can deal with it. Passports aren't convenient to carry except for women who like to carry purses (I hate carrying one and prefer a wallet in a back jean pocket).

Paul said...

A fine post Rain! We disagree more than we agree, but I respect your intellect and your point of view. A National Identity card gives me pause I admit. There could be privacy issues in question there. However, something has to be done on the Mexican border. The laws concerning illegal aliens have been haphazardly enforced at best and now the issue has become a political football. Do states have a right to secure their borders? I feel that they do-I am sure that such efforts by states would be challenged in federal courts, but it needs to be addressed once and for all. Citizens should protect life, liberty and the pursut of happiness!

Kay Dennison said...

Having worked with Hispanics in my work, my perspective is different and my emotions are mixed because there are issues that muddy the waters -- as always.

I am definitely and unequivocally against a national ID. It smacks of several truly insidious 'isms' for me.

Rain said...

How do we then deal with this? Just allow everybody from anywhere in the world to come here and live without any standards or rules? It cannot be just Hispanics that get an open door. It would have to be anybody who didn't have the salaries where they live that they might make in the US? Where does that leave our country?

Without an ID card, how do we identify who is here legally? We have it now with social security cards but they are not exactly safe from fraud. We can't just demand that those who might look different carry ID, not with the attitude in this country even to the terrorists who would blow up planes and to avoid facing who likely would do it, we pat down babies and old people without daring to look at who is possibly interested in being a suicide bomber.

I have never liked the idea of such a card either but it would depend on how it was used, I guess. I just do not see how giving amnesty to all here today would solve this problem. It didn't when Reagan did it. It simply made it worse.

Rain said...

Other than hurting the working poor in this country, letting anybody enter when they wanted would give cheaper labor to a lot of jobs and cut out the coyotes at least. But I think people need to realize the cost of this in many ways.

It is simply morally wrong to continue as it is as it's taking advantage of a group of people who have no recourse except to take whatever is offered and cannot go to the law when they are mistreated. They have to live with fear. How is that the right thing to do? Basically we have created this problem by looking the other way and it would be wrong to think a simple solution is amnesty or even a work card.

Other countries do have cards and do ask to see them in various situations. This resistance to it on our part is a lot due to the rugged individualist thinking. Also that we are convinced our government would use them to arrest us, I guess. I am not sure exactly what we do fear as many of us have passports and don't worry about having them. They are just bulkier to carry around than a simple card. If they could come up with one that could not be forged.

The drug trade is an equal part of why it's become so violent... possibly even a bigger one. I know Mexico hasn't particularly wanted to stop any of it, but I don't even think it's helped them in the long run. Not when they have their police gunned down on the streets.

From what I can tell, Americans are unwilling to have any inconvenience to themselves, want the cheap labor and therefore it will continue no matter what they do about amnesty.

One other thing is that real working cards for Mexicans will put them in competition for jobs they currently cannot get. It's all what must be considered when Americans figure out what is right... if they even do without signing a meaningless petition, boycotting a business that had nothing to do with what happened (possibly didn't even agree with it), and turn back on their television to forget it.

Bush tried to do something about it to his credit but the whole idea of amnesty without some proof the border can be stopped is what most people found a fraud after what happened under Reagan.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

I am in the liberal corner on this one, but I think you have presented a very fair picture of both sides of the AZ issue. I really don't know what is best in this sticky situation.

donna said...

It isn't having or not having ID on you -- it is targeting people for their appearance. That is the issue.

There are many, many hispanics who are legal citizens. Why is it fair to target them and not others? You know it's not going to be the white folk whose citizenship is questioned.

Rain said...

Well anybody can be asked to produce it even now and anywhere. The thing is that this country has profited from virtual slave labor many times in its history-- blacks but also Orientals brought over to work on the railroad construction and not allowed to bring their women; so they would not have families here.

Now we have another such group where this thing that happened in Arizona would not have happened were it not for a lot of very violent things ahead of it. What gets me with it is the illegal problem hurts those here illegally also as they cannot get protections they would otherwise be entitled to and that means sometimes from the coyotes who bring them across. We have created by being unwilling to deal with it a very bad situation.

This did not happen because Arizonans hate Mexicans who are there legally to trade or have citizenship. It's about a violent trend that is scaring people there and with reason given what is happening south of the border and some spilling up here.

Enforced green working cards, a program for citizenship and a tightened border would do a lot to end the need for what Arizona did.

Incidentally I wrote on this for Darlene's blog (bookmarked in my blog roll) where she took the opposite stand from what I am taking. Well maybe not totally opposite as we both probably believe there has to be something done. I just understand why Arizona got tired of waiting. It may prove to be the trigger for fixing it.

Incidentally, if you have known very many Mexican people, you know they don't all look one way or the other. Biologically I think many are Caucasians for racial heritage unless they are part Indian.

I do have more experience with this than some for several reasons. One is many years spent in Arizona, then up here living in an area where there are many agricultural workers and a sizable Hispanic community (mostly legal) but it also happens that my niece's children's father is Hispanic who did come up here illegally and got amnesty with Reagan's plan. My great nieces and nephews are part Klamath and Umatilla Indians, part Hispanic and part Caucasian. I won't go more into the story there because it's not necessary. I just am saying it because they all impact my perspective on this.

I don't blame Arizona for what they did even though it may end up that they suffer for it through boycotts and have it overthrown. I have not read the law to see what it means when they say they can ask for ID with due cause.

I do blame the federal government for not putting more money into both protecting the border, stopping people from working here illegally by going after the businesses that hire them, not providing a good working card for Mexicans who wish to come up here to work; and finally a path to citizenship for those who have lived here and want to remain.

I was very encouraged by what Obama said as to me he had a handle on the prongs needed to fix this situation. Maybe finally Americans will care enough to do it...

And I don't see a problem with having an ID card. The more I think about it, the more I am fine with it and I didn't used to be. I carry a lot of cards. What is one more? And I could easily be asked to show mine because I do have Native American features and when tanned with silver hair, I can look like other races. My father, back in the day in South Dakota when Indians were not allowed to buy liquor, was denied it because of what he looked like. Now it turns out these features and dark skin are from France but they look a lot like Sioux.

Rain said...

For anyone interested in knowing exactly what the law does say, I found it online SB1070. It is very probable that if the Obama administration sees that it is unconstitutional, it will be challenged, put on hold and the Supreme Court will make the decision on its legality.

Rain said...

One further point is that if it is legal, it would be carried out by the police. I guess it depends on whether you trust the police or not. In Tucson many of them are Hispanic themselves. It's a very old pueblo with a proud Mexican heritage that goes back before the first white settlers came.