Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Immigation: Massachusetts an Arizona Wannabe?

Tough economic times can translate into mean-spiritedness and make things difficult for those who are different. If you’re a Muslim-American, for example, you can be assumed to be a terrorist. If you’re Latino, you can be assumed to be an illegal immigrant. And, when an increase in bias against such groups plays out in the context of an election season, hold on to your seats: it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Immigration policy is, of course, a federal issue. That didn’t stop Arizona, frustrated by federal inaction to update and rationalize our immigration laws, from passing its own statute. And it didn’t stop the Massachusetts Senate from passing an illegal immigrant bill that codifies already existing policy that bars illegal immigrants from getting public benefits.

Rhetoric has been overheated on both sides of the issue, with immigrant advocates calling the legislation “misguided and inhumane,” and proponents painting a picture of widespread rip-offs of taxpayers by infiltrating illegal aliens. As a Boston Globe editorial points out, illegal immigrants have replaced yesterday’s welfare queens as the subject of contempt and punishment.

Sane policy probably understands the truth is nuanced, somewhere between the two portrayals. Law-abiding citizens shouldn’t have to underwrite income assistance, unemployment benefits or public housing for illegals, but, if the child of an illegal immigrant becomes ill, should the hospital turn its back? If the child had a highly infectious communicable disease, should she go untreated? Not to do so could have significant public health implications.

You could also make the case that an 18-year old child of an illegal immigrant should be allowed to attend public university at the in-state tuition rate. Won’t that student be better able to contribute to society with a better education and, if he stays here, better able to provide for his children? After all, we’re not saying that student should go tuition- free, just that he or she should pay the lower in-state tuition rather than the higher out-of-state cost. The children of illegal immigrants are not the perpetrators of the crime; it’s their parents.

And the entire Muslim-American community are not, ipso facto, terrorists. Try telling that to Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill. He recently blasted the Governor for “playing politics with terrorism” because Patrick had participated a meeting with 1000 Muslim-Americans. As recounted by Adrian Walker in the Globe, Cahill said, “Now is the time for Governor Patrick to look radical Islamic terrorism full in the face” and cooperate with the feds investigating the Times Square bomber. As Walker points out, Cahill seems to think that “any gathering of Muslims is the moral equivalent of an Al Qaeda meeting.”

Governor Patrick meets on a quarterly basis with representatives of the Commonwealth’s ethnic news media. There are reporters and editors from Chinese-American newspapers. Would Cahill charge the Governor with consorting with communist disciples of Premier Hu Jintao?

People need to calm down, especially state politicians. And Congress needs to have a greater sense of urgency about passing comprehensive immigration reform that includes border enforcement, punishmnent for employers that hire illegals, sanctions as well for those who reside here illegally combined with a rational approach to providing a path to citizenship for those who have been here for a long time and have become contributing members of their communities.

- Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below


  1. Your analysis of illegal alien policy fails the rationality test. Is it rational for US citizens to sit silently by while elected officials in local, state and federal governments make self-serving decisions on this issue that result in great harm, often irreparable harm, to their families and communities? I think not! President Obama doesn't have to worry about some illegal alien sexually molesting his daughters, Senator Kerry doesn't have to worry about his wife being murdered by an illegal alien, Congressman Ed Markey doesn't have to worry about some illegal alien breaking into his home in the dead of night, it's highly unlikely that Barney Frank will be run down and killed or maimed by some drunken illegal alien driver, and Governor Patrick doesn't have to worry about illegal gang crime in and around his home in Milton, MA. There hundreds of thousands of US citizens who are the victims crimes at the hands of illegal aliens. There are over eight million illegal aliens holding jobs while at the same time there are over 15 million American citizens with out jobs. Tens of millions of American citizens who work in jobs at or near the bottom income ladders whose income has be depressed by the presence of illegal aliens in the workforce, and these are the very people Democratic politicians purport to represent. Our school systems across the country are inundated with the kids of illegal aliens speaking many different languages and siphoning resources away from the kids of US citizens and thereby undermining their education. Taxpayers across the country are have their pockets picked to the tune of $100s billion each and every year to provide for illegal aliens while their own needs go unmet. This litany of concerns is only the tip of the iceberg of the concerns American citizens have on the issue of illegal aliens. So when you question whether the 18 year old child of an illegal alien should be allowed to attend public university at the in-state tuition rate, you are asking the wrong question. What you should be asking is why that child is even in the US.

    The AMNESTY boat left the dock permanently when the 2007 AMNESTY bill was defeated, and tax paid benefits of any kind for illegal aliens or their children are opposed by the vast majority of American citizens. Only a small majority of Democrats support AMNESTY or benefits like in-state tuition for illegal aliens and their children. Are you saying that 48% of Democrats, 72% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans are all racist, bigots, xenophobes, nativists and haters of brown people? The American people are sick and tired of paying the consequences of the massive illegal inundation of our country so that corporations/businesses can have CHEAP LABOR, and politicians from both political parties can get rich.

    I’m a prime example of what Democratic party leaders had better be fearful of as we head in the mid-term elections. I'm a life-long liberal Democrat who thinks for himself and who is neither a LEMMING nor a FOOL.  I know that legalizing this hoard of 12-20+ million illegal aliens is not in my self interest nor the interests of my family, community, state or country.  I WILL VOTE in every election and I WILL VOTE AGAINST any candidate who supports AMNESTY IN ANY FORM, or who refuses to severely punish (including jail time) corporations/businesses that hire illegal aliens.  I, like most American citizens, want ATTRITION THROUGH ENFORCEMENT to be the policy of every government from the town board to the state and national governments.  I want my government to put me and other US citizens before every single illegal alien in each and every instance.

  2. I know this is not an easy subject. If you read novels, you might enjoy Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle, about middle-class values, illegal immigration, xenophobia, poverty, and more. It looks at how a couple, liberal Democrats - as you describe yourself in the past - find their values tested as they bump up against certain realities in Southern California. Book was written in 1995.

  3. I'm a multi-racial man who came of age in a poor blue collar family during the 1940s and 1950s in southwestern Ohio. I know first hand all about family values, discrimination, denial of opportunity, and poverty. I have also read a great deal on this topic, and as an elected member of my town board of trustees, I have had to grapple with the consequences that massive illegal immigration places on communities. I am not a neophyte on the subject.

    One last comment, you use xenophobia like a weapon, but all it means is an undue fear or hatred of strangers and or foreigners or anything strange or foreign. Our country admits approximately 1.5 people legally every year and most Americans support legal immigration. Their concerns come from the inevitable consequences of such huge numbers. My research indicates that the American people never demanded a change in Immigration law. In fact they opposed each and every change congress made.

    Immigration law is not about doing what is good for the immigrants whether they come legally or illegally, and no matter what their personal situation may be. Instead immigration law is about doing what is best for American citizens and the country at large. I have yet to hear a single demonstrably true and rational explanation of what problems America has that are made better by adding 1.5 million legal immigrants every year, and another 800K+ illegal aliens to the 12-20+ million already here. Nor have I heard a rational explanation of why American citizens should be harmed for the benefit of illegal aliens.