Thursday, April 6, 2006

Immigration Policy

I want to quickly talk about immigration and American culture. People recently have been taking to the streets because of these bills passing through our government increasing the penalties for illegal immigrants. Claims of creating a second class citizenry based culture have come up and there have been compromises made. In the NY TIMES they said;

”Those who have lived in the country at least five years would be put on a path toward guaranteed citizenship, provided that they remained employed, paid fines and back taxes, and learned English. Mr. Frist said this group accounted for about 60 percent of the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants believed to be living here.”

Now, to begin with, my main problem with this provision is that it requires that they learned English. Some say that this provision is reasonable and necessary because it is the language of the land. Not true. In most state constitutions, such as California, there is an official language listed; English, however, there is no official federal language. So, for a federal bill to mandate learning such a language would be about as justifiable as having immigrants necessitate learning Esperanto.

It is an attempt at curtailing an invading culture. If you have ever played Civilization 3 you would know how important culture is in winning as a society.

NPR reporting on proposed solutions for illegal immigrant problem. Laws being “willfully ignored” allowing illegal workers to work for less and ends up using more government services than they pay for. Arguments claiming both that these illegal immigrants are hurting the economy and that the economy cannot exist without them. The fact of the mater is that the American workforce has changed, that there are more Americans who are better qualified for better jobs than these illegal immigrants end up taking. It has also been argued that more open borders would be an answer to curd the illegal immigrant problem. Opening the border with Mexico would help allow temporary workers to actually be temporary workers and returning to Mexio, instead of being trapped in America and setting up roots here.

According to the NPR review of American culture and attitudes towards immigration, there is an actual American culture. They polled a sample of the citizenry and 2:1 found that America is more of a dynamic changing culture, and not a specific culture. Personally, besides consumerism, baseball and a couple of songs and holidays the American experiment is rather pale in comparison when it comes to “culture.” Most of the concepts that are drummed up are from the 1950’s bomb-shelter era of beatniks and conformity. So these 2:1 that found America to be ever changing, were also reported as claiming that immigrants should assimilate to American culture. This is a double standard; we are a diverse and ever changing culture, but we are unified and “American.”

Americans could be an immigrant country (as Roosevelt said) or as one Harvard professor seems to believe; a settler country of a core value system of anglo-individuality which is under attack from all these “Hispanics” coming in (as said on the NPR sound file). This is ludicrous. These original settlers were leaving Brittan because they refused to assimilate with the British beliefs, so why should anyone coming here do the same with American beliefs and culture? Isn’t that a double standard? We are a nation of subcultures and counter cultures that shift back and forth with the norm but never really meld. America is NOT a melting pot, it is a honey comb of boroughs and subsets and neighborhoods.

So why should we curb immigration? Some say security, but who from Mexico wants to blow up a government building?

There is still this zenophobia that chokes us and it is not just the white people, it is everyone and it is so well grained in our genes and our minds that different is scary that I am not sure what to do.

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