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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So what would you do about it?

 Immigration politics
is not about people visiting from around the world, living and working here with legal permission, or becoming citizens. America (including Arizona) is very welcoming to legal arrivals from everywhere. As always, when I was in Sinagua country and Bryce, I saw as many people from other countries as probably from here.The photo of Wupatki with a young couple taking a photo is a good example.  He was likely (based on accent) from India (actually I had guessed Germany but Farm Boss said India and since he works with many people from there, I defer to his wisdom on this one) and I would guess (although didn't ask either of them) that she was Navajo or Hopi as she was talking about living in this red rock country. Later I asked if they'd like me to use their camera to take a photo of them together (as people often offer us), and they did.

America is not an unfriendly country. It welcomes over one million immigrants a year to become new citizens. The issue being debated is purely about those who come without papers, who decide to make America their home and work here against our laws for which I don't blame them as much as our government.

I would like it if we could discuss this issue without attacks-- especially without attacking the messenger *wink*-- but instead deal with the message and hopefully offer some good ideas on working and immigration in our country but really in any country as it's not just an issue for the United States. Some do believe borders are wrong and people should be able to move anywhere in the world and settle if they wish. If you are one of those, I hope you will make your case.

Even after getting home from Arizona, the talk still swirls about Arizona's attempt to deal with illegal immigration. Boycotts (a favorite tool from the right) are only one of the suggestions. One labor union asked Homeland Security Department to not recognize Arizona as being in the US as a way to block their enforcing their immigration law. The federal government is planning to sue them for daring to apply the Constitution to immigration when it's only the job of the federal government-- never mind it's one they aren't doing to the tune of at least 10 million people living and working here illegally (at a minimum) and that after 1986 allowing 10 million illegally here then to become citizens.

During the last two months, I have had to read lectures from Mexico's president regarding the unfairness of this law which happens to be far less draconian than Mexico's own. Several small nations in the UN lectured us likewise and who knows what their border policies are, but the media covered it as-- United Nations finds fault with Arizona's law. Many cities, who are now profiting from such unauthorized immigration also got into  attack mode over it. People like me are called white supremacists or bigots for daring to say it's a problem to have our laws ignored, for thinking that profit should not matter more than legality. And on it goes. So I want to ask--

What would you do about it?

Should any nation have borders that have meaning or should we all let in anybody who wants to come? Totally open borders would be more honest in the United States than what is passing for policy as it stands. Is it fair that Americans who live along the southwestern border must live with fear?

Please read the link above because it is one of many that describe the issue that makes me most angry because of my love of that border country. Then there is this next one that makes it more 'personal' and yes, it's from an anti-illegal immigration paper but read the article for the interview with the Krentz family-- Family Talks about the Life and Death of the Murdered Arizona Rancher

To hear the left wing media talk hey it's just one murder. Well to that family it's not especially since they saw it coming. Or here's another on Krentz's murder-- Rancher Krentz was shot more than once-- which means whoever did it, wanted him dead. Remember he didn't fire his own guns. The person wasn't just trying to escape but to murder and possibly intimidate others from reporting drug smuggling. Until they find the killer, if they ever do, there is no way to know motive, but we can know that people who live where the Krentzes live have long feared this kind of crime.

For years I have been reading stories from those who live along the border as they try to tell others what it's like for them. I have driven the roads, hiked the trails, and seen how it's changed for myself. For some of you this is a brand new issue, but it's not for those who know that country. It wasn't always this way.

You don't likely know those little houses, the patched fences, the windmills, the water tanks, the land that takes a lot of hard work to hold onto, land that weather alone makes challenging for making a ranch profitable, and then along comes something else, something hard work can't fix. Over many years I have imagined myself living in one of those ranches. It's still country where I'd love to live, but...

What would you do at night when you are lying in your bed and hearing whispers and footsteps outside, maybe a hundred feet away, or maybe outside your window. You wouldn't know if they were going to pass right on or if they might decide to invade your home. You don't know how many except there seem to be a lot of steps. They probably have guns. You know some carry AK-47s.

Sometimes in country that far out there is no phone service. Forget cell phones; but even if you could reach Border Patrol, they couldn't get there in anything less than hours. Besides who cares about trespassing? It's another of those laws like car 'borrowing' that has been dumbed down into no big deal.

What would you do if you were a rancher with your fences cut or your water tanks deliberately drained, your cattle dead because they swallowed plastic garbage uncaringly thrown on the ground? What would you do if your husband had been gunned down just because he was out checking his own land? What would you want done then?

The media is telling you, based on statistics, that there is little crime along our American side of the border. Does fear count as a crime? How about petty burglary? We already know trespassing is no big deal. Who cares about fences cut or water tanks deliberately drained, right? Drugs stored on someone's property okay? Is one murder, as a way of intimidating others from reporting or even seeing what is going on, also no big deal? Should there be any concern of the escalating violence just across the border-- a border that can't be protected (and some don't want protected)?

But to me this issue isn't just about fear or even whether there is crime. This is a question of American law, property rights, and national borders. The reasonable solutions regarding immigration have not happened. So I'd like to hear ideas about how to deal with it, ideas that might help when name calling does not. Last year (and every year) over one million people legally, from many nations, became American citizens-- the largest percentage from Mexico. How many should that have been?

In its beginning, this country did let everybody come; those who stayed could apply for citizenship. At one time we also had a Homestead Act which granted land to anybody who settled on it and proved it up. Life and needs change. Haven't you noticed that?
Immigration rules in the United States were altered in 1875.

Immigration laws were/are wrong? Totally open borders are the way to go? If someone really believes in an open border, they should work to change the rules, as encouraging millions of people to break one of our laws isn't a good way to get them to pay attention to any of them. Either we mean it or we don't and when we don't what else don't we mean? When I wrote about this in my May politics blog, I said Americans love under the table and this is sure a case of that.

What irks me the most about it is not the idea of letting in a lot more immigrants (if we did it legally and above the table), but it's hearing the left encouraging breaking the laws for some higher purpose (immigration) and knowing the right says the same thing for a different higher purpose (terrorism). Is it any wonder people look askance at believing we take any of our laws seriously?

And then there is this practical question, the one I am not supposed to ask. When those new people come, from all around the world, the poor, the sick, the ones the poem in the Statue of Liberty talks about, how do we pay for benefits for them all (and they are already getting them now in sanctuary cities; so they will want them)? A 70% tax rate is okay because it will be on someone else? It might take that much. You know, I believe in the need for higher taxes to take care of our own poor, our own social services, but now some tell me that's not enough and it should be anybody from anywhere in the world... Frankly, that's nuts!

People are so busy being mad at Arizona for doing something about all of this that many haven't come up with their own plan for dealing with unlawful immigration. Are you one of those or have you figured out a solution. If you have, I'd like to hear it. Keep in mind amnesty won't solve the problem as that was tried in 1986, where all who were already here, could apply for citizenship. [It not only wasn't the end of others coming across, it might have encouraged them].

The following article suggests that amnesty will work without explaining how other than after amnesty there will be a big crackdown on those here illegally. Isn't that what is being suggested now with so much vitriol from the left? Will a Border Crackdown Work?  If people don't want ID checked now, what will change about that then?

The problem with amnesty is that as soon as the people here illegally are made citizens, they will be replaced by new workers without documentation. You know it's true.  The article suggests we make them citizens first and then solve the border problem. I suggest we do it the other way around.

Yeah, I am angry at this situation. I have written about my ideas which were pretty much what Reagan's amnesty program promised would happen (and I doubted it would happen then-- it didn't). We either control the border, enforce work regulations, or it's all just a shell game.

And this made me even angrier when I learned what the Obama administration planned to do about it. In 2007, Arizona passed a law restricting people from hiring illegals and having penalties for doing it. The Obama administration is now going to sue them over that too as they claim it damages an already working program. What already working program?

I listened to a left winger, Robert Kennedy Jr. saying that the number of illegal workers grew when the unions lost power. Before that, unions enforced working rights and workers had to join a union but those here illegally could not; so it kept down illegal employment (and it is illegal employment as it stands). The thing is to a leftie, I guess if the union checks on citizenship, it was okay but not if the state does it?

As it stands, there is no real hope for control with the viewpoint I hear from the left, but a lot on the right want no enforcement either. There's too much profit in it as there is. I listened to Olbermann smirk over how much money Arizona would lose over cracking down on immigration. So it is really all about money?

Little did I realize besides Sanctuary Cities, our own federal government not only does but wants to ignore its own laws. I do understand that some people who want immigration controlled might be bigots [and the latest proposal from the Arizona legislator to make any child born here but with one parent being an illegal, then not qualifying for citizenship definitely seemed to come under that category. You can make a case-- whether you should or not-- for having to have at least one parent be an American citizen for the baby to be automatically a citizen but what he is suggesting seems cruel and very unfair]; but generally speaking, I get tired of the distraction used by the left and the right of attacking the messenger for any message. How about looking at the message for awhile.

The issue here is what should be done about immigrants who come in and stay without a legal right, without documentation? What should be done regarding those who hire them to avoid paying benefits or taxes and can pay them less than our minimum wage? If someone really wants to let in everybody, change the laws! Do it honestly. I am sick of people who say one thing while they do another.  It's not serving us well in any arena.

It takes tough regulations to make immigration and border control work and too many Americans have no stomach for anything tough in any area of life. They are easily milked for emotions, they expect someone else to pay for what they want, and they don't think ahead for the actual costs of anything. We aren't like our pioneer ancestors. We have gone soft and that won't help us in a world where a lot of other people are not soft.

So what do you think we should do now? Doing nothing is fine? I doubt that it's okay with Rob Krentz's widow or his children. I know it's not from those people who live on the land that is regularly being crossed.

Photo of me is also at Honanki in northern Arizona. Basically it is apropos for this debate because the Sinagua were a culture that also existed and then didn't. At one time a woman likely could have stood where I am standing and thought it would always be as it had been. It wouldn't.


Annotated Margins said...

For me, it's more an issue of what happened to the planet because of humans. These little problems that we create among ourselves (Arizona, Israel-Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, Burma, Korea, Afghanistan... ad nauseum) are just tiny flames compared to the complete issue: survivability on a planet while in the throes of making ourselves extinct, via overpopulation and greed. Had we not invented ways to make transportation so easy, humans would not move about so freely, and thus maybe we would have learned to be content with what we had and with where we were, thus we would have controlled our population to match our food and water supplies. If we learned to get along and started to cooperate, maybe we could avoid pulling that one straw which will result in the complete collapse of human existence.

Rain said...

It's a dilemma but in the past when people didn't have the mobility, they just died when water ran out or food wasn't there anymore. Now we have options but more complications in how we use them. I do think our greed is a factor. Enough isn't enough and it takes a lot more to make humans happy in the developed world. That a lot more is often taken from others too weak to protect theirs.

Did you see the talk about Afghanistan having a lot of minerals? It's not new news but it's being pushed right now as a reason to justify our war there. The thing is if there are minerals there and since they are in nearby countries, no reason there would not be, who will profit from them? If it's like the past, it's not likely to be the citizens of Afghanistan but it could be.

Anonymous said...

I welcome immigrants - legal ones. We should protect our borders and enforce our laws....

mandt said...

We simply must have a uniform, comprehensive, Federal/State immigration policy that is strictly defined, humane, and enforced. We must also have secured borders. Instead of spending trillions in futile wars ( that we are not winning) why in the 'H' don't we stabilize and control our own borders? And stop the drug traffic/killing? States like Arizona are desperately trying to do something, but are in the hands of inept ideologues who are demeaning the issue by faulty, racist orientated legislation.

Anonymous said...

What Mandt said.
(Except for the stupid comment about the perfectly sensible Arizona law.)

mandt said...

As for the 'stupid' comment remark----this is exactly the problem with current dialogue on the immigration crises. How does the law exactly define who 'looks like an illegal alien', and whose just legal folks? Professional, conscientious law enforcement does not want to be in the position of 'red lining' or race-identifying ordinary citizens. Americans have a long and honored tradition of Constitutional freedoms and the Arizona law is walking a mighty fine line between just inquiry and fascist intervention. Repeat: America needs major focus and attention to a comprehensive overhaul of our immigration laws and a just consideration of the humanity of those seeking what used to be our American dream.

Rain said...

Well keep in mind that it's not totally being described fully to the public as this is not about police stopping someone for no reason except they think they are illegally here. It is about a valid stop, for a legal reason, nothing to do with race, and then asking for such ID. The problem is if we don't get tough on checking ID, there is no way to stop this and amnesty will not fix it. It will solve the problem for those here illegally long enough right now but it won't for the ones coming up who don't qualify yet.

The reasonable route is to let those who have worked here long enough become citizens but they should be given work permits which are legal to work at all. There are many who do not want that. I have written about all of this though many many times. What I am interested in hearing here is if anybody defends no borders, no right to stop people from entering and working here, in other words totally open to anybody from anywhere. If they don't defend that,then somewhere along the line checking people's ID (and this is from many places not just Hispanics or Latinos) will be necessary it will never happen.

We can do better down on the border but it won't happen when troops are put in and then soon pulled out, when it's all about looking a certain way. If we really enforced work permits, that would be also a good start but wouldn't help with the illegal drugs which is where the worst of the violence is happening. Unfortunately smuggling people and drugs are by the same people.

Rain said...

One other point to consider. When we had more open immigration policies, there weren't all the social programs we now promise to all citizens or in many cases today non-citizens in sanctuary cities. Then when people came they knew they had to figure out how to survive and get jobs right away. Now it's not like that and the costs cannot be ignored in a country that is currently in big financial trouble. We have a lot of people out of work and we are borrowing for most of what we are doing. How long can that keep going on?

mandt said...

Amen to that Rain.....

Darlene said...

I agree that breaking the law should not be rewarded. I also agree that the laws on the books are not being enforced. I am also a pragmatist and know that it's prohibitively 'budget busting' to try, jail and or deport over 11 million people. It simply cannot be done. Not only would it break up families leaving citizen children behind when their parents were deported (And who will pay for their care? The State will.), it is fiscally not wise since studies show that the undocumented entrants contribute more in monetary gain to our country than they take from the system (Contrary to the false reports being given).

If Congress would quit evading it's responsibility and pass a sensible immigration law this problem could be resolved without the divisive actions of the Arizona lawmakers.

I do not think most of us who live in Arizona live in fear of illegal entrants. Most violence caused by them are drug related. I do agree that the killing of the rancher will cause those living next to the border great fear. I think the rancher caught a drug or a 'coyote' engaging in bringing drugs or humans into the State. The jury is still out on his killing.

I also agree that the trash left by the illegals entering the state is disgusting. But a good guest worker program would eliminate the need for human trafficking. Also, legalizing marijuana like alcohol would put a dent into the violence caused by gang wars. Those two changes would most certainly be less expensive than building a fence (virtual or otherwise) and hiring more border patrol. You may have read that one of the latter just shot a teenager on the Mexican side for throwing rocks. Violence works both ways.

In other words, I agree with most of what you say, Rain, but still think the AZ law is wrong, ineffective and has negative consequences for the State. The Federal government is right to question and sue the State. It is a law that does nothing to solve the problem and much to make it worse. It is most probably unconstitutional, so if you really believe in the rule of law you should oppose this misguided piece of legislation.

Rain said...

I don't fear them either when I am in Tucson but when I go out into the wilderness, it's very different than it was. There are some people you simply cannot come across and not have some fear if you have any idea what they are like. Many areas I used to regularly visit are now a lot more questionable.

The people who have to fear are those who live down along the border and for years they have been writing about what it's like to wake up in the morning and see footprints in the dirt outside their window.

Arizona's law will doubtless be decided by the Supreme Court as to its Constitutionality and hopefully soon. My concern is that nothing will happen if it is thrown out. That is not right. If they had done the right thing after the 1986 Amnesty, we'd not be facing this again. IF we just give amnesty, we will be just pushing it down the road. It is obvious that the easiest place to deal with it is the workplace but that isn't what the government wants to do either. One has to ask why. Again if people want to do nothing, I suggest they amend the Constitution to allow in everybody who wants to come. Under the table as it stands is wrong and it makes some people pay a higher price for it than others.

There is no telling who killed the rancher but it is possible it was done to intimidate others from turning in drug stashes as his family had done. They knew stuff (including migrants) were always coming across their land and they had spoken out. I hope they get the person but there is a theory that the smugglers in Mexico would have killed whoever did it to avoid the case going further.

I also know first hand how different it is in Nogales thanks to this problem. I have written about it before, the toughs hanging around the border, the way they look at a person, they things they said to me. It's not the Nogales it used to be. We have no right to ignore it for the sake of the Mexican people as well as our own. Legalizing pot would help as would better patrolling of the border but it's really gotten bad in Mexico and the violence is scary to anybody who pays attention. There is no reason it cannot spread north. It has to the Hispanic communities where the coyotes bring people and often abuse them.

Rain said...

A link for people to check who think this whole border thing is no big deal. Keep in mind, these are federal warnings, not Arizona's-- Arizona Federal Lands Travel warnings in Place.