Sunday, May 14, 2006

Speeding ticket

Maybe I spent too many years in South Texas, but the hardest thing for me to understand in the immigration debate is why so many people get apopletic over the fact that illegal immigrants broke the law to get here.

Sure, they broke the law, but there are laws and there are laws. It's illegal to drive 70 mph in a 55 mph zone, and it's illegal to commit armed robbery. But that doesn't make the crimes morally indistinguishable.

Let's face it: For most of American history, crossing the border illegally has been treated much more like a traffic violation than an armed robbery. That may have been bad policy, but it was our policy, not the immigrants'. Offenders have gotten the equivalent of a speeding ticket, or less -- often people apprehended trying to cross the border were simply sent back to the other side, only to try again the next day.

So here's a hypothetical: You're unemployed, the bank account is empty, the kids are hungry, and you have no prospects. Suddenly, you hear about a job 100 miles away that will pay you a wage beyond anything you could hope to earn in your home town. But to take it, you have to drive there by noon, and the only way to make it is to break the speed limit.

Do you speed and risk a ticket? If your answer is no, then shame on you for lying. If it's yes, then welcome to America.


Eric Coobs said...

David, you're over-simplifying the issue.

We're not talking about civil-disobedience, we're talking about sneaking into another country, to work illegally, and send the money back to Mexico. And of course while you're here, enjoy all the benefits, like public schools, county hospitals, etc.

Ed Kemmick said...

Well, I can die now. I lived long enough to see Eric accuse someone else of over-simplification.

David said...

Yes, of course, I am oversimpifying. I'm looking at the issue from the perspective of the people who come here, not from the perspective of U.S. security or national interests. I don't think immigrants come here to soak up benefits; I think they come here to work for a better life, and I have a hard time holding that against them.

Anonymous said...

It is well to remember that to the sneak-ins, $5.25 an hour (if they've lucky to even get that) is probably more than they'd earn in a month back in Mexico. Meanwhile they find themselves working in conditions that would have the OSHA inspectors ready to shut down the business in a heartbeat, but they can't complain about the conditions, since then the employer would suddenly "realize" he's hired undocumented workers, and an anonymous call is made to Immigrations and Customs.

The people who do the hiring should be the ones who face the legal music first, but we all know that'll never happen because they've paid their protection money to their various legislators.

In the meantime, I'd feel better if the migrants would at least make some effort to assimilate into society, learn the language (which would allow them to have a better chance to succeed here) and act like all the other immigrant groups who've come to this country -- to stay and make a better life for themselves and their children, here.

Kirk Dooley down in the front lines of Arizona -- or Northern Mexico (sometimes I'm not sure which)

Anonymous said...

Of course it makes perfect sense for the illegal aliens to want to come here, and there would be no problem if they could be here legally, and if they were just coming here to work. However, about half of them are coming for the freebees and it seems beyond ironic that the employers are viewed as villins because they don't ask for ID to see if they are legal before giving them work, but public entities aren't allowed to ask that they prove citizenship before giving them benefits????? It's also ironic that for the most part people who support illegal aliens, are the same people who object to companies locating in Mexico offering low-paying jobs. At least when the job is created in their own country the workers have a legal status. When they come here illegally they are almost slaves because they have no legal standing upon which to demand decent wages, decent conditions, to contract or to pursue legal courses of action. It seems to me to support the illegal aliens status is to condone slavery because that is its practicality. And you have to suspect that has not escaped the attention of many employers, whether it's the politicians hiring domestics, farmers hiring field workers or WalMart hiring clerks. Do you suppose that that could be the real reason neither Reps nor Dems want to deal with the issue? Slave labor. That's whats happening and it won't go away until they have some kind of legal status. I'm all for making it easier -- a lot easier for them to come here and work legally -- but to become citizens they should do the things that will facilitate assimilation like having to learn the language, learn history, learn about the constitution. And, we should make it very difficult to get free stuff and absolutely prohibit them from voting. There should be some benefits to becoming citizens. While we are at it, we should increase the immigration quotas from all other countries too.... the US only wins with LEGAL immigration. Yes, they take a job, but they are also a market for more goods. The real solution would be to put real pressure on Mexico to provide a humane environment in which to live ... why shouldn't the people of Mexico be able to live, work and be happy in their own country? Not nearly enough public criticism of Mr. Fox.

Anonymous said...

I suppose that the big companies have ways of knowing that the people they hire are illegal. As a former employer of migrant field workers, I want you to know that I could not tell the difference between legal and illegal workers. They all either could not or would not speak English, they all had "green" cards and other ID, they all drove better pick ups than we own. The only clue I had was when I mailed the required documents at the end of the year and they came back to me, addressee unknown. bonnie

Mark T said...

President Bush made a good point in what I thought was a good speech - that these border crossers are important to our economy. I heaard an intereseting interview on Here and Now - a midwest dairy producer who hires Mexican labor, winkingly knowing that some of them are her eillegally - they have advantages over American workers - they show up, they work hard. And something else we don't hear too much about - that too many American workers can't pass drug tests. These people crossing the border are filling a need. Without them, our country would not work so well as it does.