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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

More immigration thoughts

There are a couple of comments in this immigration thread that I feel the need to talk about.

Dismissing illegal immigrants as "criminals" and making light of giving other criminals a "free pass" or talking about being adults and getting medical treatment elsewhere is not really conducive to this debate. I realize that I may be in the minority on this. That is because I have intimate knowledge of the immigration process. I know how arbitrary, capricious, and downright racist it can be. If we had a functioning immigration system, where people were treated on their merits, it would be one thing. But we don't. Furthermore, although these people are criminals in the eyes of the law, I am going to have a very hard time condemning somebody who simply wants to come here and work to better the lives of themselves and their families.

It's easy to demagogue this issue and never talk about the real issues, and that's as far as most politicians, especially Republicans, go. I am all for a thoughtful debate on our immigration policy; it's long overdue. But that's going to require taking a hard critical look at exactly what immigrants are doing when they come to this country. They aren't slacking off or collecting welfare as some people think. They are working, working in agriculture, traveling around as migrant workers, working construction. They are getting these jobs because they are willing to work longer and for less than other people. A big sector of our economy is predicated on that fact.

So if we could wave a magic wand and deport all illegal immigrants tomorrow, what then? Would those jobs previously held by illegal immigrants go unfilled? Would employers drastically raise their wages and raise prices for consumers? What would people be okay with?

Illegal immigrants are a pretty easy group to bully. They have no power. They can't vote. Many literally have no voice. But that doesn't make it okay to do so, or to ignore the very real things they do for our economy. They are still people, and although I may not know a thing about Catholicism (as one commenter put it) after 18 years in the church, I do seem to remember that some guy said something important about how you treat the "least of these" people.


At 9:12 AM, December 28, 2005, Blogger Kevin from Minneapolis said...

If you want to have a real discussion, explain to me why we should allow what illegal immigrants "do for us" to overshadow the fact that they broke the law to get here and why we should not use this type of cost-benefit analysis on all crimes.


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