Thursday, June 07, 2007

Immigration Anxiety is Cultural

By Ruben Navarrette Jr.
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- On Thursday, senators announced a rather remarkable bipartisan compromise on immigration reform that combines border enforcement, a guest worker program, a path to legalization for illegal immigrants, tougher employer sanctions, and an education/skills-based point system for future immigrants.
The same day, the Census Bureau reported what many Americans already know: The United States is becoming a Hispanic nation. Hispanics are the nation's largest minority with 44.3 million people and they account for almost half the growth in the U.S. population. Meanwhile, since 2000, the white school-age population dropped 4 percent, and the white population shrank in sixteen states.
The stories are connected. Anti-illegal immigration crusaders claim their worries are entirely practical -- tied to border security or the cost of entitlements or the fact that illegal immigrants supposedly depress wages for the low skilled.
(That reminds me. Memo to the low skilled: "Grow up. Stop complaining. And go get more skills. Then you won't have to suffer the humiliation of being driven out of the market by folks with a sixth-grade education who are here illegally and don't even speak English.")
But I digress ...
As someone who has written about immigration for more than 15 years, and heard from hundreds of thousands of readers along the way, I can tell you that most of the anxiety over illegal immigration is cultural. People worry about changing demographics, the encroachment of Spanish, the fear that the country is becoming Hispanic-ized, etc. One sociologist called it "cultural displacement" -- the fear that your children will grow up in a world different than the one you grew up in, with fewer advantages, where they will have to work harder for what they accomplish.
One of the more fearful members of Congress is Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-California. Last year, while campaigning, he told a largely white audience near San Diego that if we don't end illegal immigration, one day our children would live in a world where instead of electing to take Spanish in high school, they'll have to take Spanish. Bilbray now heads the House Immigration Reform Caucus. That's where members of Congress come together at regular meetings and complain about illegal immigration while counting the campaign contributions they collect from businesses back home, many of which undoubtedly profit from hiring illegal immigrants.
Last week, Bilbray popped up on one newscast after another and milked his 15 minutes. He opposes the Senate plan, which he calls -- wait for it -- amnesty. But, like most of the critics, he offers no alternate piece of legislation to solve the problem over which he claims to be worried sick.
The Senate compromise isn't perfect. But it's bold and thoughtful, and it's a start. It also did something that's very significant -- dividing traditional allies and uniting traditional adversaries.
If the deal crumbles, we'll return to the status quo. Illegal immigrants will still come to the United States do jobs that Americans won't do. And employers will still hire them. Nothing will change. No one will be punished or held accountable. There's a word for that. I know -- wait for it: amnesty.

I was going to write another post about illegal immigration, but when I ran across this I decided to post it instead because I think this guy makes some great points. I especially agree with his assertion that if this immigration bill fails, then we will be right back where we started with nothing whatsoever being done and illegals continuing to flood across our border. If America wants something accomplished in Congress/government for a change then we have to be able to compromise with one another, which means NO one will get everything they want out of any bill. Hence why it's called compromise!


Blogger Doug said...

I agree with both of you. There is no solution that doesn't legalize the people already here somehow. I know this is wrong to do and I won't be offended if you delete this but because it's timely I posted this on my blog yesterday. I called it "An American Immigration Primer."

A is for Assembly, calling patriots forth
A is for Americans who come from the north
A is for Amnesty the forgiven oppose
And A is for Alien with dirt on his clothes

A is for Anglos, who speak the Queen's tongue
A is for Arizona, no place to run.
A is for Albuquerque, where New Mexicans gather
or A can be Ames or Abilene if you'd rather.

A is for the Alamo, never forgot
And wept for profusely over beer when it's hot
The cause that men died for is shrouded with mystery
In San Antonio, Mexico, if you study history.

A is for the Advocate, securing our borders,
Loyal and noble and barking out orders
To all who will march and don't mind hot air.
Go down to Home Depot, there's folks like that there.

A is for Asses like Tancredo and Dobbs
Lamenting the loss of American jobs
While making a fortune from babble and bellow
Proclaiming a menace with brown the new yellow.

A is for Axiom, called "debate" in this nation
A is for Alphabet, the start of education.
A is for Anxiety over wage and disease
Perhaps we'll do better if we get to the Bs.

6/07/2007 3:36 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

Doug, Thanks for the comment and the poem, it kinda says it all.

6/07/2007 4:16 PM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

I think we should hold off on this bill and get our borders together.

We need to go after those employers that hire illegals... maybe after a few years down the road this bill might be able to work with a lot more changes to it.

6/08/2007 5:23 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

Let's Talk, well the bill failed so I guess the discussion's kind of moot at this point. Thanks for the comment though.

6/08/2007 1:04 PM  
Blogger el said...

I was reading over this article... The guy does well in describing the fear that many Americans have with the great amount of illegal immigrants in the United States and still coming over. What I miss is the answer to the fear, which is logical and I believe a true threat. In this article there the development to that Brian Bilbray, who supports this point of view of many Americans also happens to be a hypocrite. Right? I don't know what to say to that since I don't know the guy, and that still doesn't answer to why giving amnesty is the answer. There is still the problem that American culture is threatened.

For that reason also I am glad it failed. I think it failed for a good reason, it was simply an attempt at political compromise and not at doing what is right.

6/08/2007 8:58 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

El, I appreciate the fact that you as a conservative will at least admit that your fears are cultural, most conservatives won't admit to that and hide behind reasons like, "they'll take our jobs", which doesn't make much logical sense.
As to the solution, well first off I have to say I don't share those cultural fears. Frankly, I think that "white" America being a minority in this country might not be such a bad thing and whether it will be or not it's coming, so people better get used to the idea. Americans have always come in every color and from many different backgrounds, so why fear hispanics so much? I really don't get that. People forget or don't know that when the Irish, Italians etc. came over they didn't assimilate immediately. They each had their own neighboorhoods, stores that catered to their previous nations tastes and culture. Many, especially older immigrants, did not learn english, and kept to their own immigrant people. The assimilation of these immigrants took generations, so why are hispanic immigrants supposed to be different? Ok sorry, I'm babbling on, anyway if you want a secure border and some sort of solution to illegal immigration then I believe there will have to be a compromise, because it's not a matter of simple right and wrong-which is why people disagree on what should be done. To my way of thinking there are very few black and white, right and wrong issues or answers. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

6/09/2007 2:50 PM  

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