Saturday, April 01, 2006

El Norte

I've been swamped for awhile so my blog has suffered. Not that anyone is reading this, but apologies anyway. I am baffled about the whole immigration issue. Being from Texas, I can tell you that Hispanics have contributed in ways both positive and negative. I don't think anyone really minds that people are crossing the border to seek a better life because the United States is a nation of immigrants-and yes that includes even the Native Americans who came from ancestors who crossed the Bering Land Bridge. I think what many people resent, and I include myself in this group, is the impression that the people who have broken OUR LAWS and crossed illegally feel totally entitled to do this. Similar attitudes towards Mexican laws are not tolerated south of the border, yet there is this sense of impunity, that they are owed, which grates on the nerves of many who have struggled just as hard to live from day to day.

Part of the problem is Mexico itself. Anyone who has followed the border war that exists between the Mexican government and the Drug Cartels is very aware that this is a corrupt government that appears more interested in sustaining the power at elite levels than addressing the needs for the vast poverty striken levels of the Mexican population. For a long time, desperate people have sought to come to the US to seek better pay. Much of that money returns to Mexico and in turn keeps a turgid Mexican economy from taking a dive. If you talk to any citizen,teacher, hospital, mayor or police officer along our border to the south, you will hear endless accounts of desperate poverty. Who can blame them for wanting to escape? But then again, by leaving their own country, they also give that nation a pass to continue the same old, tired systems that have offered so little to its citizens. El Norte, The United States, has become the safety valve that prevents the pressure cooker that is Mexico from exploding. So on that level, while I don't blame them for leaving, it does little to improve the conditions that exist in their native land.

The rest of the problem is that the pie isn't growing bigger. By that I mean, our resources are finite in amounts, and when countless number legally and illegally come to our country, they must contribute in a meaningful way to further our national goals. What is happening instead is that the willingness to work off the books for lower wages, is weakening the minimum wage and preventing those who were born, educated and live here from getting the entry level jobs that they need to break the cycles of poverty. This has been an issue in Florida for quite awhile, where young African American males are shut out of a job market in which Hispanics and bilingual are the rule. Should a person be REQUIRED to speak Spanish in the United States? While it is good to have more than one language, the strength of a nation is based on shared culture and shared goals. I don't know that a person who lives in this country for decades, but still doesn't speak or understand English could be considered a full participant in the American Experience. This is a different mindset than previous immigrants expressed. In the early twentieth century, ethnic Germans, Poles, Italians and Irish learned English and with that joined the rest of the melting pot. Right now, many of the immigrants from India, Asia and the Middle East work hard to move out of ESL classes and into the American Dream and are doing it in record numbers. Compare that with the huge numbers of students that linger in bilingual classes from Kindergarten through high school and never master the language enough to move past that level. There is no reason for them to learn when TV channels, media and even the government enable their unwillingness to become part of the bigger picture. And it's that resistance we saw on display during the student protests. (Incidentally, lest you think those were spontaneous and such, there were some big money sources promoting this internet campaign such as George Soros, and others of the same political views....)

I am not particularly offended by the protestors flying the Mexican flag. It is their national flag after all. I am however, deeply offended by the burning of the flag and the confrontation of the one girl who had and American flag. I guess in part I really don't understand. Mexicans leave a country that takes their taxes but doesn't support them for the United States, they take jobs for lower wages eroding the minimum wage and keeping OUR CITIZENS out of work, they get social and educational services for which they do not pay the same level of taxes, they send much of the money home in American dollars which is hard currency and floats the Mexican economy due to the exchange rate, and then they BURN THE US FLAG????? That's almost a declaration of way socially. The reasons that borders exist is because that is the limit of a nation's laws. Cross the border, new set of laws, it's as simple as that. So why is it that specifically Mexicans think they can come here, break our laws and get away with it? And they do on a daily basis. Just this week, a serial rapist caught in Ft. Worth, gang style killings along Webb Chapel Extension, a variety of drug and gang related crimes that fill our jails, make our streets unsafe and end up costing us more money. Perhaps if Mexico had a better grasp of their own problems, we would not inherit so many of them, but it's been estimated that 30% of the felons in prison in our state are from across the border. I don't know if they were career criminals before they cross the Rio Grande, but I do know that once you break one law, it is much easier to break more.

The only solution I can come up with is this-make a STRINGENT legal alien worker policy that sets PERMANENT limits on how long someone can stay with a work visa and ENFORCE IT. Build a wall all along the border and staff it with kids in a Civial Corps and pay the kids in college credits and scholarships to state schools. Make the rules stick and fine and/or jail those people, workers and company owners alike, who break them.

1 comment:

Darren said...

A.N.S.W.E.R. was involved, too. They're a Stalinist group. Seriously.

I've blogged about them many times. Feel free to type "ANSWER" into the search engine at the upper left corner of my blog to learn more than you wanted to know about those types.