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Marching Against Law and Common Sense By: Michael Radu
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, April 18, 2006


We are told that hundreds of thousands demonstrated on April 10 throughout the country in favor of immigrants and against the proposed House of Representatives version of the immigration bill.

It is interesting and suspicious that, all of a sudden, and in contrast to the Los Angeles demonstrations a few weeks ago, the sea of Mexican flags of “la raza” have been replaced by white dress (“peace”?) and American flags. One should give the obviously well funded and organized groups behind it credit--but then, they have long experienced and enjoyed the unwavering support of such benefactors as the Ford Foundation, the Catholic Church, and assorted elements of the Left.

 

The demonstrators and their spokesmen are on the streets in support of three great lies, and they are fully aware of it.

 

Great lie #1. “We are all immigrants.” Hence there is no difference between my grandparents, who legally arrived by boat from Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, were checked for health at Ellis Island and entered the United States without the benefit of bilingual education, free “emergency” health care (that includes emergency room treatment for colds), or “affirmative action” for “anchor” babies, and those who cross the Mexican border at will, making a joke of the law. To compare the willing accomplices of coyotes or polleros (border traffickers of people) to legal immigrants is an insult to the latter and to give illegals the status of “victims” (of “racism”, “exploitation”, etc) is absurd.

 

Great lie #2. “Without illegal immigrants the country will come to a standstill.” Really? If America’s prosperity and superpower status are indeed dependent on the price of California onions and strawberries, or the cleaning ladies of its restaurants, we are in greater trouble than we think. If, as most economists, on both sides, argue, the percentage of illegal immigrants in the labor force is less than 5%, virtually none of whom have education and skills. The economic argument is no argument at all, just a pretext for farmers who refuse to mechanize, businesses looking for cheap labor, and the politicians they contribute to.

 

Great lie #3. “Illegal immigrants are honest, hard-working people who only want to participate in the American dream.” That is when the term “illegal” is used at all, which it seldom is. Indeed, all we hear is “undocumented immigrants,” as if the dog ate their papers. Instead, the 12 million or so illegals have planned and willingly paid thousands of dollars each for breaking the laws of this country: so much for “honesty.” As for the “American” dream, it has been painted all in green hues, rather than red, white, and blue. That explains the now conveniently disappeared Mexican flags, and the fact that remittances from illegals are Mexico’s largest or second-largest source of hard currency, depending on the year. This lie reaches grotesque levels when Latino politicians and activists call the illegals “heroes” or when hierarchs of the Catholic Church openly espouse the notion of open borders – and law-breaking. If the Cardinal of Los Angeles and his colleagues are prepared to pay for the benefits received by the millions of illegals in their country, fine, that’s very Christian. But posturing as willing would-be martyrs is an insult to the memory of past Christian martyrs, not to mention bad citizenship.

 

Perhaps those who cling to the notion of illegal immigrants’ willingness to assimilate should look to Maywood, California as an omen. That town, with a 90 percent Hispanic population, most of it illegal, has formally decided to disregard all U.S. (and California) immigration laws and regulations, going so far as to give “sanctuary” to illegals and to prohibit all police checks on drivers’ licenses and drunk drivers, because, God forbid, they may “profile” or “insult” illegals. This is a result of imported Mexican lawlessness combined with Californian political correctness. 

 

Mexico itself will not and cannot “do” anything about emigration to the United States. If all those now sending money back to Zacatecas or Chiapas would have to stay in Mexico, it is more than likely that, sooner or later, they would do something about elite corruption, incompetence and demagoguery.

 

While most of the pseudo-arguments about illegal immigration turn around its economic impact, which is almost impossible to gauge, the real issue goes unmentioned, as it is cultural, and thus even harder to assess in terms of dollars. It is politically incorrect even to notice that America’s ability and willingness to assimilate millions of Hispanics has limits, and those limits are being reached now.

 

Before the floodgates were opened in 1965, immigration to the United States was mostly of Asian or European origin, and thus one ocean or another lay between the new arrivals and their countries of origin. But Rio Grande is no ocean. Eastern and southern Europe, or Ireland, where previous waves of immigrants legally came from were not known for deep rooted anti-Americanism and historical resentment against the United States. Mexico is and not just at elite levels.

 

Then there is the willingness to integrate immigrants, and do so on a timely basis. When the very idea of citizenship is under attack, openly or not, and the will to defend one’s culture is in sharp decline, absorbing millions of people who may not want to be integrated and who have their family across a long border is a problematic proposition.

 

What does citizenship mean when California and Maryland, to give only two examples, treat illegal immigrants and their “anchor kids” better than they treat Virginian or Pennsylvania born, five-generation citizens, by giving them access to state colleges at in-state resident cost? “Affirmative action” includes “Hispanics,” whether legal or not, as a privileged category, but not the descendants of legal immigrants through the centuries.

 

The demonstrators in the street not just oppose the rule of law, but openly claim that citizenship is a right. Since when? Worse still, politicians also share that view, as demonstrated by the Senate and its barely disguised amnesty to millions of lawbreakers. Indeed, it seems, if you manage to break the law without being caught for long enough time, “fairness” dictates that you are entitled to American citizenship.

 

Whether most Senators are just trying to solve an inconvenient immigration “problem” now, or actually believe their own rhetoric about the mythical honest, hard working illegal, is perhaps unimportant. What is important is that they refuse to learn from past mistakes, like the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986, which legalized the previous generation of illegals, helping to create the present and larger one.

 

For the likes of Mexican revanchists like MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan at see www.panam.edu/orgs/mecha/nt_const.html) there should be no limit. Indeed, MEChA would not tolerate Americans in the southwestern United States and California. For Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles there should no limit, either.

 

Now, Cardinal Mahony may just behave like any politician by representing the views of his constituents (“flock”) while ignoring the national interest. But why is the Senate avoiding unpleasant facts, such as the reality that half of the population of the Mexican state of Zacatecas lives in the United States, or that a large majority of Hondurans intend to emigrate to the United States? What is the legal, practical or moral argument for “legalizing” some 12 million illegal immigrants now, but not the millions who will come in the near future?

 

We are told that we should be “realistic” and that closing the Mexican border is impossible. That is a copout and sheer defeatism. It could be done and, in some sectors, has been done and it works. If Israel could stop much more motivated Islamist terrorists with its wall, so could the United States stop illegal migrants. At the very least, a well built and protected border obstacle will drastically diminish the number of lawbreakers and make the cost of using polleros for crossing – now some $1,200 per head for Mexicans, many times more for non-Mexicans – prohibitive.

 

We are told that we should be “realistic” and that one cannot deport 12 million people. That, too, is a copout and sheer defeatism, as well as a misstatement of the problem and solution. The point is not to have 12 million handcuffed people forced across the Rio Grande, but to deny them the ill-gained advantages of illegal residence. If all benefits are denied and employment and deportations are sped up, in a few years the illegal population will diminish by attrition. Certainly, it will take some time, but it also took time to allow the problem to fester.

 

Contrary to all-out opponents of any immigration, there is some need for immigrants – highly skilled ones, as well as unskilled. But the first group is already coming and the second could be included in an honest guest-worker program. Honest means just that – temporary working permits under regulated norms, with a share of the wages on escrow, to be cashed only upon return home. And once the California farmer now hiring illegals has to pay legal wages, and risks being heavily penalized if he does not, his appetite for complicity in lawbreaking will diminish, as will the number of unskilled immigrants.

 

The chances of any of this happening soon are minimal. We should see what is happening now in Europe as a warning. There Muslim immigration is out of control, with Islamist terrorism as an inevitable corollary, and the mainstream politicians refused until recently even to mention the problem. The result was the growth of anti-immigration populist parties, some ideologically quite unsavory, inter-ethnic and religious conflict, and cultural decline.

 

How long will it take until one, or more, of the Arizona ranchers whose property and living are being destroyed on a daily basis by hordes from across the border react violently? And what then? Are juries going to jail an American whose government refused to protect him and his property for defending himself against lawbreakers? We can already hear the howls of “racism” thrown against all those defending law and order and their country’s culture, but how long is this attempt to stop the debate going to work?

 

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Michael Radu is Senior Fellow and Co - Chair, Center on Terrorism and Counterterrorism, at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.


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