Monday, November 13, 2006

Immigrating Ideas

Could local legislation aimed at controlling illegal immigrants actually degenerate instead into sanctioned discrimination against all immigrants?

We’re all fed up with schools and hospitals congested with people who can’t speak English, soaking up tax dollars and resources that rightfully should be directed towards lawful citizens and our children. There are about 50 communities around the country that have not waited for the Federal Government to act on the illegal immigrant issue, putting into place ordinances outlawing renting property to illegal aliens, laws penalizing employers who hire illegals, and creating other, legal ways to retaliate against the tide of undocumented- aliens flooding communities from south to north and west to east.

Farmer’s Branch today will introduce a proposal to make English the official language in that community, and impose fines against businesses and landlords who commit commerce with illegal residents there. The population of Farmer’s Branch is 37% Hispanic.

What if we passed a law that suddenly made a third of the population suspect, just because they look like they’re not from around here?

What if we started to put laws on the books that basically forced all American citizens to prove we are entitled to our constitutional rights? Are we crossing the line from a melting pot of cultures to a catalytic-cracker of classes? Have we lost our minds?

There is a very simple solution to all of this mess, and it will require two basic concessions for everyone:

  1. Forget about rounding up all the illegals and deporting them back where they came from. There aren’t enough law enforcement personnel to identify, capture, and corral them; there isn’t enough jail space available to contain them—not without turning loose real criminals. Think about that for a minute: You want to release robbers, thugs, junkies, and a few Enron accountants, so we can put brown skinned people who speak a little funny and only want to work, into a secure cell to be shipped back across to Mexico?
  2. Forget about those xenophobic fixations against amnesty, accept the notion that people from all over the world still want to come to America to work and live and prosper, and simply add the illegals to our tax rolls. If that “makes” them legal, so be it.

I want to bust the myth that illegal immigrants cost more in public services than they contribute to our economy. Chapman University Law Professor Francine Lipman's work this year has revealed just the opposite: Illegal aliens in fact provide a net positive benefit to public coffers, because of the tax law's treatment of those in the country illegally, and those who are married to illegal aliens. They are ineligible for the Earned Income Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
Professor Lipman also reports most economists she’s interviewed (85%) have concluded that undocumented immigrants have had a positive impact on the U.S. economy.

Imagine what might happen were we to officially add these people to the tax rolls?

Think about this—there are 78-million baby boomers about to retire. Not all of us are just going to quit producing, but it’s estimated that it will take two workers to sustain the social contract for each baby-boomer who finishes their primary career. You think a few extra million people injected into the workforce might help temper that imbalance?

The Pew Hispanic Center estimated that by September 2006 the illegal population was about 13 million, with one-sixth of the illegal alien population--about 2.0 million people-- under 18 years of age. That’s a good start towards replacing those who’ll start leaving the workforce very soon.

It’s also a yellow flag to those xenophobes who would seek to control this problem by using exclusionary tactics: As the Hispanic component of our population continues to swell, the balance between majority and minority segments is shifting drastically. Those who once could depend upon certain political outcomes just because White Anglo Saxon Protestants were the majority should note how minorities are being treated. It is likely that within a generation WASPS will find themselves among the ranks of “the minority” as well, with the shots being called by representatives of a demographic once repressed because of skin color or surname.

The solution to the very problems we’re blaming on illegals could be achieved by tapping them as a resource instead of knocking them as a nuisance. Farmer’s Branch may be trying to get into the parade of other communities, marching to anti-alien sentiments, but the real innovators will be those governments who march to the beat of a different drummer…even a mariachi…and apply the positive possibilities to the problem.

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