Friday, August 24, 2007

“Pay It Forward” and “Born in East L.A.” both seemed like good titles, but I couldn't choose. So instead, I’m going to call it “The Smartest Compromise Possible in the Ongoing U.S. Illegal Immigration Debate: Part I”

My last article was an appetizer, but this one is the meat course. It is an entire churrascaria in one dish. It is the essay equivalent of a sautéed scallop wrapped in fried bacon, popped into a roasted chicken, stuffed in a deep fried duck, inserted lovingly into a broiled turkey and then finally placed into a spit-roasted butter-basted capybara (the pork of the rodent order). Anyway, now that I have tortured my meaty analogy and it has died on the grill, down to business. This article is about immigration policy.

By the way, it is near impossible to be serious with a 15 pound cat sleeping on your head and occasionally licking your eye. But I vow to do my best. Immigration Policy.

There are about 10 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. right now. Their lives, and the lives of American citizens and legal residents will be hugely impacted by how America chooses to handle the immigration status of those who are not currently in the country legally.

If you think this is an exaggeration, let me throw a fact at you. Experts estimate that between $6 and $8 billion dollars are paid into Medicare and Social Security every year by illegal immigrants using fake or stolen social security numbers. The Social Security Administration is aware of this, and not only includes this income in its budget, but makes the assumption that it will never have to repay these funds to their (illegal) contributors. From what I have read, I estimate that by the time Social Security goes bankrupt, it will have collected $130 billion USD of funds from illegal immigrants.

Whether you are liberal or conservative on this issue, it makes no sense to advocate a policy that will fail just because it seems correct. So I generally fall into this camp: if you are here illegally, you cut in line. You don’t get rewarded for that. Without a doubt there are a billion people in the world that would like to legally immigrate to the U.S. The majority of them are deterred by the hellish bureaucracy, cost, and tiny probability of acceptance. Did you know that the average waiting time for a foreign sibling of a U.S. citizen to receive an immigrant visa is 11 years? Check it out here.

Before I tip my hand and you figure out where I stand on this horribly divisive issue, let’s enjoy the fleeting possibility that you and I might agree. And since we might agree, let’s take a minute to civilly discuss the major Immigration-related issues on both the right and the left.

On the right:

  1. People should not be rewarded for breaking U.S. law.
  2. People who followed the law and are going through the immigration process legally should not be penalized.
  3. It is meaningless to discuss amnesty if new workers without visas will flood in after reform.
  4. Illegal immigrants do not pay taxes but consume/use costly services and infrastructure.
  5. Not having English as a national language spoken by all destabilizes society and divides us.
  6. Illegal immigrants repress wages for Americans.
  7. Unsecured borders are a real threat to the policing of terrorist threats.

On the left:

  1. Not providing a path to citizenship for people who have lived and worked here for a significant time might create a permanent underclass that does not feel ownership in their country. This could undermine our culture and divide us.
  2. Expelling a large number of workers in a short period of time could seriously damage the U.S. economy.
  3. The current situation is not unprecedented. Historically, the U.S. has had a higher % of immigrants before.
  4. Many families may be split up by an aggressive policy of expulsion.
  5. Demonizing “illegal” workers may cause racism to worsen.
  6. Illegal immigrants largely do the work that U.S. workers are unwilling to do.
  7. Children of illegal workers, many born in the U.S., will be greatly harmed by the expulsion of their parents.

I’m not taking sides yet. Let’s just agree for now that this is a fair representation of the points made by each extreme. If it is, then a good compromise should address all 14. Surprisingly, it isn’t really hard to do.

But it takes a long, loooooong time. This article is 12 pages long now, and even though it is finished I’m going to split it up into parts. Consider this the end of Part I. Night!

Ps…anyone know a detergent that will get cat drool out?


Rib said...

I always love reading your keyword labels... I be there's no other blog entry in the world that gets capybara, churrascaria, immigration reform, IRS and cat drool all in the same post.

This entry seemed more like the appetizer... a meaty appetizer, but it weren't no turduckenara.

Random Magus said...

I'm readin'