Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Do You Really Want to Pick Fruit?

Immigration seems to be the topic of the hour on a lot of blogs so I thought I’d add my two cents. To be honest I have mixed feelings on the subject. I would like to see America secure her borders, mainly because I think it’s an obvious weak point in our national security and I do believe that illegal immigration at its current rate does/will hurt America by overburdening our schools and social systems. Having said that, I do not however understand or agree with the extremely harsh rhetoric I’ve heard from many Americans when it comes to what should be done with the illegal immigrants who are already here.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, “we should round them all up, they’re all criminals, and send them back where they came from,” or my favorite, “we should put them all in prison”. Frankly, I think this type of thinking is irrational, not to mention xenophobic. It’s irrational because it’s not in Americas best interest to spend billions of dollars and thousands of manpower hours trying to round up all of the illegals who are out there picking the fruit we eat, cleaning up the messes we make etc. These are the people who are doing the jobs that 99% of Americans don’t/won’t do. Should we round up illegal immigrants who commit crimes; robbery, rape etc., of course, but is it really in our interest to attempt to deport all of the honest, hard working illegals whose only crime is wanting a better life for themselves and their children? Is it in America’s best interest to build thousands more prisons, which would be necessary, to house these “horrendous” criminals?

Did these people commit a crime in coming here, yes, but let me ask you something, if our nation was suddenly dirt poor, there were no jobs and no opportunities, your family was literally starving and the only hope you saw to be able to feed your loved ones was across some invisible border, what would you do? Would you sit on your ass for the next ten years, watching your family suffer while you waited and hoped to cross the border legally or would you cross illegally and work yourself to death picking fruit or moping floors so your kids could eat? Personally, I would break the immigration law in a heartbeat if it was the difference between me and my loved ones starving or surviving and I’d bet my life that the vast majority of Americans, including the ones who want to throw these people in prison for trying to survive, would be right there beside me crawling over that border with hope in their eyes.


Blogger Candace said...

Good post! It amazes me when some people rail against "amnesty" for illegals. WTF ELSE are we gonna do with 12 to 20 million people who are already here, and whose children are American citizens? I mean, use your brain. It's way too late to do anything BUT make it possible for them to become citizens.

They would not be here in the first place if the laws we already have on the books had been enforced. But, they weren't, and we cannot "round them up and send them back," for chrissakes because that's a logistical impossibility, not to mention a tragic way to think of treating our fellow humans.

As to future illegals coming across the borders, I have to agree with what Molly Ivans said, that the only way to solve the problem is to actually start putting the CEO's of companies who hire them in jail.

5/30/2007 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Good Post!!

I too have mixed feelings about immigration to for social and economic reasons, but there is a huge part of me that sees these immigrants just like my family when they wanted to come to America to make a better life for them selves. For instance: A single mom working in a nursing home to take care of her family, isn't a criminal she’s just another one of our societies unappreciated heroes. Should she be locked up? I think not who would take care of your grandparents?

I believe that all of the hype that is being built up on what to do with the people that are here should be redirected figuring out the best way to secure any border that is causing this much of a problem. Then we can figure out what the right thing to do with the folks that are already here. With our governments past performances they have shown that in no way possible could they succeed at rounding up everybody, they couldn't even round up all the people that were dying during the Katrina storm.

Wow I am long winded today keep up the good work!

5/30/2007 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your argument that they do the work that 99% of america won't do is incorrect. In fact, only 26% of all people working in agriculture are originally from another country. So, like most statistics, your 99% is grossly incorrect.

Addtionally, if we had less of a welfare state, then there would be plenty of americans that are willing to, as you put it, "pick fruit."

Furthermore, those millions of tax payer dollars that you were talking about being spent on rounding up illegal immigrants; are already being spent on education, free health care, law enforcement, and welfare for all 12 million illegals (conservative estimate). In fact, each illegal immigrant will cost our tax payers 1.5 million over their lifetime. In case you don't have a calculator that would be $18,000,000,000,000....and that's just for the illegal's who are already here. And just in case you are wondering....those numbers were not based on illegal immigrants, those numbers are based on how much money the average low wage worker costs our system over the course of their lifetime...No racism in that number. It even includes their estimated tax income. Which the majority of illegal aliens do not pay.
Here are some additional stats... less than 2% of illegal aliens work in the fields as crop pickers, but 29% are on welfare(LA Times). Also, 29% of inmates in federal prison are illegal aliens (LA times). 95% of warrants for murder in LA are for illegal aliens (LA Times). 75% of the people on the most wanted list in LA are illegal aliens (LA Times). Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles county are to illegal aliens on Medi-cal (LA Times). Over 70% of the US annual population growth results from immigration (LA Times). Finally, 1/2 of all gang members in LA are illegal aliens from south of the border (FBI).

I do not, and I repeat, do not really care to go around arrested everyone in the country that doesn't have a green card. That may cause more problems than its worth, but we should be deporting any illegal convicted of a crime and we should be securing our borders. Then we need to attack businesses and other organizations (churches) who knowingly employ or harbor illegal immigrants.

The fact remains that while not all immigrants are criminals, many are. Especially since technically, everyone single person who came accross the border illegally is already a criminal, regardless of what else they do. That being said, we need to address the issue with real solutions. I sincerely appreciate the unbelievable accomplishments of people who have immigranted to this country. (Einstein to name one), but people need to do it legally.

The funny thing about this is that the poeple who are most outraged are america's legal immigrants. They jumped through the hoops, payed the fee's, and are now very positive parts of society. At the very least, illegal immigrants steal from every tax paying american's pockets. These people are not america's responsiblility and they are not entitled to free health care and welfare.

5/30/2007 12:27 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

First off thanks for all the comments everyone! Anonymous, appreciate your take on things, but while my statistics may not be spot on, neither are yours. While only 26% of people working in argriculture may be from other countries (I'm assuming that counts farmers) if we look at other less than coveted jobs, such as cleaning, day labor etc. that brings that 26% up considerably. I also find your statement that if we had less of a welfare state we'd have plenty of Americans willing to pick fruit laughable. Do you know the average wage for picking fruit? When a Burger King salary looks good comparatively, you know you're going to have trouble getting American labor. As for your point about the millions we spend on healthcare, education etc. for illegal immigrants, it's a good point, but wouldn't it make sense then rather then spend millions more trying to round them up to take the $5000.00 penalty the current immigration bill calls for from them, give them citizenship and start collecting taxes from them? To me that seems like a more logical and financially sound solution.
Anyway, despite our somewhat different perspectives on this issue, I appreciate your input.

5/30/2007 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

I just wanted say something about on to Anon's comments "In fact, only 26% of all people working in agriculture are originally from another country."

I believe this statistic is correct, if you are talking about documented workers. The problem with illegal immigrants is many of them work here ILLEGALY therefore they are not documented, it would be hard to get a true # of whats really going on in the country when so many things go on behind closed doors! You conservatives are supposed to be so smart but use your head, or drive by a farm you might be struck with a moment of clarity. 26% my ass! And then think of all the other jobs that immigrants do, janitorial work, home health care, nursing home care, day care, day labor and the beat goes on.... So don't spout off statistics that you can't possibly back up! There isn't even a true accounting of how many immigrants are here illegaly!

5/31/2007 7:22 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

Jenn, you make some good points! Thanks for the input.

5/31/2007 11:27 AM  
Anonymous David said...

I have worked and lived across the world. My wife is Italian and we went through all of the crap to make it happen just as I did in every country I went. After 20 years I have dual citizenship as will my wife after almost 10 years here.

I think you are missing the real point of the question. It is not the individual who is the problem it is corporate America not respecting contractual agreements because it is cheaper to declare bankruptcy and redo contracts. You see why are we thinking of Mexicans and the invisible border?

What about Nigeria, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ivory Coast, et al. They are much poorer than Mexicans. I know, my last company in Europe had employees from 127 countries.

BTW: I have written about the job situation and jobs Americans will not do. Unfortunately your math may be correct/incorrect but in real life there are Americans who cannot feed their family willing to do anything at any price. I spent 6 months researching jobs Americans will not do. I did not find any.

5/31/2007 7:33 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I'm with you. Who's telling congress?

6/01/2007 12:05 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

David and Doug, thanks for the comments. David, it's late here and I'm tired so that may explain why I'm not really following exactly what you're trying to say. Yes, there are plenty of nations poorer than Mexico, but they do not directly border the U.S. so illegal immigration from them is not as much of an issue. As for some Americans being willing to do any jobs, I'm sure that may be true, but I think they're in the minority by far if the wage is ridiculously low. Doug, you can tell them, I'm with you!-lol Actually, I contact my congressman on a regular basis over many issues, but he is a staunch conservative so I don't think he appreciates my opinions much.

6/01/2007 3:47 AM  
Anonymous David said...

Leo - in a single concept I am saying that immigration laws are required because of a nation's capability to absorb new entries. If we have too many new members of our society it is like a Tsunami arriving on a beach. It takes everything with it and once over leaves a barren shore.

The way to limit the flux is to fine, convict, jail corporations for using illegal labor. We do not need to round up anyone. If they cannot work they will find another solution.

6/01/2007 10:18 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

David, Thanks for recaping that more clearly for me. I'm not sure that we have much to argue about as I've already stated that I think the continued influx of illegals at the current rate is problematic for America. I don't take issue with the idea of trying to curb illegal immigration, I simply find it morally questionable to treat the illegal immigrants who are already here with the callous disregard that it seems many Americans would like to. My point was that these are fellow human beings, the majority of which are simply trying to survive and take care of their families.

6/01/2007 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for you view. I really do appreciate both sides of the issue, but it is hard to ignore some of the statistics coming from agencies. I agree some of my earlier statistics could be innacurate, (I dont Know) but that should be a debate for the LA Times if so.
Either way, my point is that Americans are willing to do any job out there. Especially if they have no other options. Addtionally, if we had a better handle on illegal immigration, field workers would get paid a little better. otherwise, companies wouldnt have any laborers. Now everything is done under the table and thats why they are paid so little.

We have plenty of people in this country who are barely getting by and all I am suggesting is that they would be more open to working in the tougher jobs, if we weren't paying for their tab as tax payers. And to be quite honest, if people are not working, but taking welfare...then they should be willing to take some work or maybe they shouldnt get welfare at all. Plus, we could always give addtional aid (partial welfare) to people in these situations. I'm more for that than paying for all of the bill caused by undocumented workers.

Besides, do you really want to base your key argument for open borders on a need to exploit another race to get by?? Im guessing your a liberal, since you called me a conservative and I am really a moderate, but that reasoning isn't too liberal, in fact it's pretty exploitative; isn't it?

Furthermore, does it not concern anyone that any known american citizen can, and usually will go to jail for not paying taxes, but if your illegal, you get a free pass. Thats not right. whether you are conservative or liberal, that doesn't make sense.

Still, All I want is for them to come here legally. So we atleast know they are here. Our needs for a secure homeland require that much. Also, I am less worried about the immigrants than I am possible terrorist. And, Either way, have you checked out Mexico's immigration policy. Well guess what, If your not a mexican citizen, you can't buy property in most places, you don't have absolute freedom of speach, and guess what...they have a fence on their southern border. Add this to the fact that it is normal policy for police officers to raise false charges against tourists in order to secure bribes. So, at the very least...the immigrants demands are a little hypocritical.

6/01/2007 4:29 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

Anon., I'm glad you appreciate my point of view, but apparently you didn't understand it very well because if you reread my original post you will see in the first paragraph that I stated that I would like to see us secure our border and that I thought that the current overwhelming flow of illegals into America was causing and would continue to cause problems for this country. If you read that or for that matter read my previous response to David, I'm not sure why you would be accusing me of wanting to exploit another race, or keep our borders open. I think I've stated my position and reasoning quite clearly at this point and if you'd like to argue with me that's fine, but please argue against something I've actually said.
As for your statement about there being plenty of Americans in this country barely getting by, I agree because I know a lot of those Americans. Where we differ is in the opinion that many of these Americans barely getting by need to take on more menial jobs, which provide no benefits and low wages. Granted if someone is unemployed and physically capable of working, yes they should get a damn job, but many of the poor Americans you refer to have jobs, in fact some have a couple of jobs and yet they're still barely getting by. If you want to talk about exploitation, let's talk about American business's exploitation of the working class in general. Sorry, I digress, I'll leave that for another post/discussion. Anonymous, thanks for your comments.

6/01/2007 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leo, the comment about "exploiting another race" was not intended for you, it was intended for Jenn. She was saying that my numbers for the % of field workers were incorrect. Her argument seemed to imply that illegal immigrants should stay here because they do our least attractive jobs. She seemed quite flustered by my statistic saying "don't spout off statistics you can't back up". My only issue with that was those statistics came from the LA times as I had noted after each stat. Those weren't "my" stats. And I don't think the LA Times would print statistics without some basis for them. So I did back them up. At least i found documented statistics instead of her guess as to the percentage base on how many she sees working in the field. In fact, most of the statistics listed could be gained easily. ex: the criminal statistics. Any journalist could obtain these from a basic ledger of prisoners. Once in jail, we know who is illegal and who is not.

Beyond that, I think we do agree on most things Leo. Obviously we both want a secure border, and I dont want to send all 12-20 million illegals back. Its quite obvious that until we secure our borders, its pointless to send any back. Because they just come back over the border again. Thats why I was disapointed in the recent congressional approach, because it didnt do enough to secure the borders. We need more man power on the border. It really is as simple as that. Afterall, their is a drug war going on in Northern Mexico. I also hope that once we do finally secure our borders, that our government begins sending back the criminal elements, while allowing the honest, skilled, and hard working immigrants to stay (after paying the fine and fees and filing for citizenship). Afterall, who is being forced to pay for the criminal elements of Mexico? Thats right. we do.

Also, my argument was not that someone struggling economically should have to take on another job. My argument was the someone who is on welfare and without a job should be pressured to take a lesser job if necessary to help carry their cost. My issue with welfare in general is that their is only enough money to go around. And every major estimate says social security and welfare are going to continue to run our country into enormous debt. Beyond that,I oppose the current welfare situation because I would like to see more of that money spent on education programs for the poor. I would like to see inner city and rural schools get updated books and equipment. I would like to see more job training programs for the poor.

Instead of just giving hand outs....lets invest the money in americans by providing easier access to education. It may cost the same, but atleast you are allowing people to genuinely better their lives. Instead of just getting enough cash to scrape by. Education is the great equalizer. It provides the tools for success. Its a long-term solution, instead of the welfare quick fix.

"Give a man a fish, feed him for a day...teach a man to fish and feed him forever." The beauty of it is that when you provide that access to education you now create generational development.

ex: The father may have been poor, but he was give a chance and now he has a degree. Now he can make a better life and his son won't be poor. His son (or daughter) is given a better chance than he was, and then his grandson would be given a better chance because his son was given a better chance, and so on....

6/05/2007 10:46 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

Anon, actually if you scroll up and read Jenn's first comment, you will see that she too thinks we should secure our border. I can tell you for a fact, cause she's my girlfriend, that while Jenn has about the biggest heart on the planet she's also smart enough to be realistic about problems. Anyway, you and I seem to agree for the most part on these issues. I too would like to see more of our money go into social programs that will help give poorer people the education, and training to better their job marketablility. I definitely believe in the old proverb, give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him to fish and he will eat everyday, or something like that. Thanks for your comment.

6/05/2007 3:09 PM  

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