Thursday, January 20, 2005

Illegal Immigration as a Moral Problem

In a recent article, historian Victor David Hanson confronts the moral evasions that have characterized the debate - or lack thereof - over illegal immigration in the US. Mr. Hanson notes that with estimates of the number of aliens illegally residing in the US ranging from 8 to 20 million, the traditional mulitracialist (as opposed to current multiculturalist) view of assimiliation, which worked so well in the previous century has collapsed under the twin pressures of political correctness (and the leftist ideology behind it) and the sheer numbers of aliens streaming across the border.

Washington's failure to restrain this invasion has led Mexico to issue a guide to its citizens for safely crossing into the US - in open defiance of American law - and has offered an opportunity for terrorists bent on harming Americans to gain easy access to the American homeland. But Mr. Hanson dwells on the morality of allowing ordinary Americans to suffer under the burden of unchecked illegal immigration - a point rarely raised.

Is it moral for employers to count on illegal industrious workers, usually without English or education, to undercut the wages of American citizens - as if a laborer remains youthful and hale in perpetuity with no need of social entitlements when disabled or impoverished years later? No wonder employers claim that they are only providing a service to Mexico's poor.

Is it so liberal that governments must pay for those who ignore the law while citizens go without? In California, the money to incarcerate more than 14,000 felonious illegal aliens from Mexico - well over $400 million - would fund the start-up costs of 20 university campuses like the new University of California at Merced, at a time when Americans (including many first generation Mexican-Americans) who are eligible for higher education cannot find access of financial support.

Is it so fair to assume that the unemployed in our midst - over 10 percent of the work force in many counties of the American Southwest that are most affected by illegal immigration - cannot find entry level work? No wonder we insist that no one can discover a citizen to mow the lawn or cook his food - as if 30 years ago our yards were weedy and we did not eat out, as if states without illegal aliens have poor landscaping and empty restaurants. Picking an illegal worker up at the local lumber yard, paying him in cash for a day of digging, and then dumping himon the curb at twilight - "out of sight, out of mind" - is neither liberal nor humane even if done in Santa Cruz or Carmel.

And is it equitable that laws must be sacred for most, but not for some? Do we really want a bureaucratic system near collapse from fraudulent Social Security numbers, off-the-books wages, false names, cars without registration and insurance, even as millions abroad queue up to enter our shores lawfully? Are we to tell waiting Punjabis or Filipinos to certify they education, skills and method of support - even as we ask far less of those who break the law to cross the border from Mexico?

Precisely put. What morality is served by neutering our laws and destroying the livelihoods to lower and middle class Americans? What morality permits the use of Mexicans and other Latinos as barely-better-than-slave labor? Of course, the motives of those who wish to ignore the burgeoning crisis, or who promote unfettered immigration, have little to do with morality and everything to do with self interest - personal, financial, racial and ideological self interest. The article is well worth reading in full.


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