The United States of America is a nation of immigrants – including the original indigenous First Nation natives here before everyone else. It’s probably safe to say that until recently most Americans were WOPs – With Out Papers – whether they came from Italy or not.
Like the movie with Eddie Murphy and the song by Neil Diamond, there are still LOTS of people (dreaming of) coming to America. Most just want better lives – and probably have much to contribute (if we let them). Others want to kill those who are already here (who do not believe as they do). A growing number are being resented for bringing or increasing problems that may or may not have existed before so many came.
Immigration and the law has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately (mainly due to a new state law in Arizona due to take effect in July). Few seem to have bothered to actually read the Arizona law or realize that it is very similar to existing U.S. Federal law and those of other states (such as the California Penal Code) – all of which are much less harsh (and less strictly enforced) than Mexico’s immigration laws.
California and Texas have built physical fences along parts of their southern borders in order to at least slow who can cross – so a lot more people are entering the United States “illegally” via Arizona than in the past. And an increasing number of those entering the U.S. (and Arizona) illegally are OTM (Other Than Mexican).
Immigration concerns do not stop at the border. Many border (crime) issues have now immigrated to places like Phoenix. As the population increases, so do many problems – especially regarding social services.
There is talk of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (mainly for people who have already managed to get across the border and not get arrested). Proposed ideas both for and against “amnesty” or “enforcement” are very unlikely to actually make much of anything better for anyone.
U.S. President Obama and Mexican President Calderon recently met and made statements about the bond between their nations being more important than their respective borders (which neither country seems to respect). This could be because both politicians are really just spokesmodels for power brokers with global interests that oppose nationalism and any restriction of trade and/or potential market share. Following the flow of money is not always easy and no longer even enough to understand hidden motives and agendas since ideology and addiction to (illusions of) power and control seem to have replaced the love of money as the root of most evil.
The First Ladies of each “nation” visited a elementary classroom and were asked by a young child about immigration policies – since the child’s mother did not have papers! The response (by Michelle Obama) was something like we’ll just have to work on that.
The response in Mexico to Guatemalans and others crossing THEIR southern border or found elsewhere in their country without proper papers is usually to pull them off buses, arrest, beat, rape, jail, deport or kill them. The response by drug cartels and human traffickers to politicians advocating cracking down on crime is often to literally hand the people their heads (in a bag).
While some things ARE getting more “extreme” in the U.S., few actions or policies are close to things that are common in most of the world – and nowhere near as bad as things that have happened in the past (at least so far). None of this is any consolation to a (Mexican) friend of mine who was recently detained at an immigration check point (for not possessing proper papers) and is still being held somewhere waiting for a deportation hearing. Unlike many other Mexican nationals I know, he apparently didn’t bother or was unable to get the legal documents required of him – and chose to ignore or break the law in order to be in this country (temporarily or permanently).
Although I am a U.S. citizen by birth, I am the child of an immigrant and have many friends who were not born in the United States. Some are now U.S. citizens; many are not. The same is true for many with whom I served in the U.S. Armed Forces. I think much of the “debate” about immigration has little to with anything “real” or “important” – and that few people are willing to walk their talk and put their money where their mouth is.
The new Law in Arizona is really not “new”. U.S. Federal law has required U.S. non-citizens to carry documents regrading their legal presence in the country since 1949. What is new is the number of people who judge the people of Arizona – yet who seem unwilling to personally adopt, assist, or provide for immigrants (“legal” or “illegal”) themselves.
The City of San Diego can’t seem to manage any of it’s MANY own problems yet the City Council took time to condemn the law in Arizona (even though I have yet to hear of ANY politician ANYWHERE claiming to have actually even read or understand it).
The City of Los Angeles officially condemned the law in Arizona – yet declined Arizona’s offer to let them out of their water contract to find another source.
The City of San Fransisco considers itself a “safe haven” of some sort (for all sorts of otherwise “illegal” people and behavior) – yet oddly “outlaws” Happy Meals (sold with popular children’s toys) and circumcision (of newborn boys).
Upcoming Gubernatorial elections in California and other southern border states will likely feature a lot of rhetoric about immigration. The same is true even in states, like Alabama, not bordering any other country.
The “Tea Party” movement has already upset some long-standing traditions and “conventional wisdom” about congressional elections – so I have no predictions about how things will play out at any political level – except to say that things are seldom really as political as they are economic (or ideological) and that city, county, state, and national borders, policies, and “players” are often not always what people assume.
What do YOU think the issues REALLY are – and what, if anything are YOU willing to do to make things better (if not for everyone, at least for yourself)?
© 2010 – 2011, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.