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Monday, April 10, 2006
By Dr. Steven Taylor

There were more pro-immigrant marches over the weekend (see, for example, the DMN: Blog: Up to 500,000 march in Dallas, which is interesting as it consists of a number of short reports). To be honest, these events strike me as wholly counter-productive for those seeking expanded immigrant rights, given the visceral reaction that they cause in those opposed to reform. Further, such events allow for the display of malcontents and troublemakers along with those who simply want their opinions heard.

Of course, while there have been a number of radical types at these marches, this isn’t about a reconquista, it is more about issues as follows (from a Reuters story):

“My mom was born in Mexico, she’s been here ever since she was 16 and I’m here for her because I don’t believe (in) the bill on immigration,” said Dallas protester Ambrosio Garcia, 25. “Immigrants should not be criticized or considered illegal felons.”

I must confess: if I thought my mother, grandmother, father, whomever was going to be arrested, charged with a felony and deported after having lived here for decades, even if he/she had originally arrived illegally, I would probably protest as well. I would note, btw, that the Mr. Garcia quoted above was a US citizen, having been born here, and so is well within his rights to peaceably march.

Indeed, my guess is the thing that has sparked these protests more than anything else has been the threat from the House bill to criminalize millions of illegal immigrants and the concern that those who aid illegals may themselves face some sort of prosecution.

When past protest marches of this type have included prominent members of the Catholic Church (as was the case in Los Angeles), it is patently absurd to paint the entire affair as one of an attempted reconquest.

And for those worried about assimilation, it would seem that these folks have learned a thing or two about free speech and peaceful political assembly.

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Filed under: Immigration | |

21 Comments

  1. I wholeheartedly agree: I think the real underlying hotbutton in the Sensenbrenner bill is that it criminalized aiding one’s fellow man. Whatever you call an illegal (meaning, if you make him a felon or whatever you do with him), it outraged me that I, an American citizen, could get in trouble for giving a starving man a sandwich. It may be necessary to enforce labor laws and reprimand or punish those who hire illegals (if the lure of the job isn’t there, that would go a long way to solving this problem), and perhaps that might need to extend to those who provide long-term housing. But if faced with the choice in the moment, I WILL give a sandwich to a starving man, I WILL give water to a thirsty man, and I WILL offer my home as shelter rather than watch a man die in the snow. And I’m just a regular ol’ citizen. If I were part of the church, a pastor or priest or nun, I wouldn’t just be doing that to be kind, but also because it is my job. The real reason that the Church got involved is not because they want to meddle in politics, but because the politics threatened to meddle in their most basic, fundemental mission– to help the helpless, right there, in the moment, without asking for papers or really caring what Man’s law has to say about it. What’s next? They can’t take their vans and soup kitchens out to the slums and help drug addicts and prostitutes because drugs and prostitution are illegal and those people are criminals? This is ridiculous. But this really outrageous point of legislature is really just in the Sensenbrenner bill and I don’t think that any other part of the debate, short of the silly idea that we would round up 11 (or 12, or 20) hiding illegals at gunpoint and ship them back where they came from–as if we could pull that off, we couldn’t even get a few thousand people out of New Orleans who were holding up signs saying here we are, please come get us– would have driven anyone to the streets or gotten the Church involved.

    Comment by Jill S — Monday, April 10, 2006 @ 11:46 am

  2. BTW, Was Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez an Illegal Alien?

    Comment by Sarge — Monday, April 10, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

  3. The House Republicans tried to get the felony issue take out of the original bill, but House Democrats fought against it and won. They knew that this would kill the bill in the Senate. So what now, nothing I guess, just like Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. This issue has never gone away but swept under the rug. Politicians should be ashamed of themselves but we have seen this poor display of reactionary politics in the past, 9/11, Katrina and the War in Iraq. If you simply think fining someone who is here after they broke the law and ask them to pay back taxes you are fool. The government does not have the ability to provide and enforce this service and the current institutions and laws today can’t protect the border or control the numbers of employees hiring illegal immigrants. Not only has the leaders in the past and present failed the American taxpayer but also he has put this great county in a financial crisis. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will be bent to a breaking point sooner rather than later. Social services in the Southwest are strained and there is no relief in the future. If the American taxpayer does not stand up and say enough, enough to those who break the law and not ask but demand citizenship we are in a world of hurt. Laws should matter, laws should be enforced and those in power should not brush aside these laws to keep control of the power they so desperately want to retain.

    Comment by c.v. — Monday, April 10, 2006 @ 2:53 pm

  4. C.V., I’m so tired of that bugaboo. Many illegal aliens have fake social security numbers and pay into a system they’ll never be able to collect from. It’s estimated that, overall, they pay into the system more than they take out, which means they are helping keep Social Security solvent longer.

    Dr. Taylor, thank you for the reasoned post.

    Comment by chatterbox — Monday, April 10, 2006 @ 6:17 pm

  5. Chatterbox’s correction of CV is dead on correct.

    CV is also not precisely accurate when he states that “House Republicans tried to get the felony issue take out of the original bill, but House Democrats fought against it and won.” It was actually a coaliton of hardline Republicans and some Democrats that kept this absurd piece of legislation intact. And, of course, it was the Republicans who put it there in the first place.

    Comment by LaurenceB — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 8:56 am

  6. I attended the march in Atlanta yesterday. Here are some quick thoughts if anyone’s interested:

    1. I have rarely been so proud to be an American. It was a wonderful feeling to see such heartfelt desires on the part of so many to become Americans. These are precisely the kind of people I want to be here in the U.S.

    2. I saw no (zero) (none) (nada) references to reconquista or Che Guevara.

    3. I saw no violence, heated discussion, or conflict of any kind. Indeed, I only saw three counter-protestors. One was a loony, the other two were middle-aged white guys with an upside down American flag. Everyone just avoided them.

    4. The signs were poignant. Variations of “We are not criminals” and “No to 4437/SB 529″ were probably the most common ones.

    Comment by LaurenceB — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 9:03 am

  7. Re: #3 above: I just remembered that as we were headed to the march a car drove by and a guy yelled out the window “Go back to Mexico!”. So, I guess I actually saw four counter-protesters.

    Comment by LaurenceB — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 9:05 am

  8. Laurence,

    Thanks for the report.

    And yes: I am afraid that it is difficult to blame the contents of the House bill on the Democrats, especially given that the nature of the House is such that if the majority leadership doesn’t want a bill, it never makes it to the floor.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 9:13 am

  9. Your welcome. I’ve got some pictures if you’re interested. But they’re mostly just what you would expect - lots of Latinos, signs and American flags.

    If I may be so bold, I think there is an untold story behind these protests that some enterprising reporter (or blogger) could address - - namely, how did this happen? Who organized these marches? Why were they so successful?

    Here’s the answer (which I haven’t seen anyone address): Spanish-language Radio.

    Comment by LaurenceB — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  10. Lets all see if we can agree on one point. It is not against the law to come to this country without going through the proper channels?

    On the Social Security issue, what percentages of those who are illegally are paying into Social Security? I would have to guess no one knows. What is the condition of the social services on the border, stretched and broken?

    The last question to all, what would you do in this situation? From what I have read everyone seems to defend those who have broken the laws of this country. What you are telling those who have come through the proper channels to become a citizen of this great country, like my grandmother, is you are a sucker. America’s laws mean nothing if you are here to find work and we should just allow you to become a citizen because you deserve it.

    If you agree to my first question about the legality of crossing the border illegally, how can you defend those who have broken the law?

    Comment by c.v. — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 10:00 am

  11. I’d very much like to see the pictures.

    And I actually have heard a few stories (one on NPR last week) and a couple of TV (I can’t remember which programs/channels) that discussed the role of spanish-language radio. You are right, however, this has not been well addressed–certainly not in the Blogosphere (especially amongst those who think this is all motivated by a reconquista).

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 10:00 am

  12. Chris,

    I would by no means dispute the illegality of the situation. However, that is a rather simplistic view of the situation. A hardcore law and order stance on this issue solved nothing and really avoid a debate about why 11 million people are here in the first place and the degree to which there are substantial benefits to the nation’s economy.

    What do you think would happen, for example, to the poultry industry in Alabama if you beamed all the illegals out of the state. And given that we can’t afford to adequately patrol the highways in this state, who is going to round them up?

    In regards to Social Security, the contribution by illegals to the SS system since the mid-1980s has been somewhere in the vicinity of $190 billion (see: here.

    The truth of the matter is that most illegals pay taxes: payroll taxes, sales taxes and property taxes. The likelihood is that they are probably still a net drain in terms of pay-ins and direct pay-outs to government. However, it is likely a relatively small net loss. Further, you have to take into consideration the overall economic benefit to a number of industries.

    This is a far more complicated issues than law-breaker v. non law-breaker.

    Would I prefer that there were no illegals? Absolutely. Of course, one way to fix that is to allow more work visas, but on balance the folks who are crying out illegality don;’t want to do that either, begging the question of precisely what the objects here are.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 10:38 am

  13. CV,
    Here’s a quote from a NYT article:

    As the debate over Social Security heats up, the estimated seven million or so illegal immigrant workers in the United States are now providing the system with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year.

    Comment by LaurenceB — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 10:46 am

  14. CV,
    Here’s a link to that article:

    Comment by LaurenceB — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 10:47 am

  15. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/05/business/05immigration.html?ex=1270353600&en=78c87ac4641dc383&ei=5090&partner=kmarx

    Comment by LaurenceB — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 10:47 am

  16. CV,
    I agree with you that it is true that crossing the border without going through the proper channels is illegal. It is also true that not stopping at a stop sign is illegal, and that not paying one’s income taxes is illegal. The last two are dealt with by requiring that the offending party pay a fine. The legislation in Congress that provides a “path to citizenship” also requires that illegals pay a fine. That seems appropriate to me.

    Comment by LaurenceB — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 10:50 am

  17. Dr. Taylor,

    Here is a link to some pictures of the march in Atlanta.

    http://www.dotphoto.com/Go.asp?l=nachoburton&P=&AID=3391067&Pres=Y

    My favorite sign is the one that says “USA: Please let our people integrate into your community”.

    http://www.dotphoto.com/Go.asp?l=nachoburton&P=&AID=3391067&Pres=Y

    Comment by LaurenceB — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 12:27 pm

  18. Cool–thanks.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

  19. I have to show a passport when I go to Mexico or the will not let me off the plane. You guys have to be kidding me do you honestly think that you are going to collect fines and back taxes from those who have no respect of the laws we currently have on the books. You are all living a life of fantasy. As they say why buy the cow if the milk is free.

    Comment by c.v. — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

  20. C.V., because the milk isn’t free. This is going to be a personal response so I feel I should provide background. My family is from Germany. My mother married an American whose family also traced back to Germany. I never knew him — I grew up with just my mother and me and consider myself to be a 1st generation American. My wife is a 2nd generation American. Her parents immigrated, legally, from Mexico. We both grew up poor although she grew up poorer than me.

    Both our parents faced economic hardships I can’t imagine you are familiar with. I certainly am not. To this day my mother panics if her pantry, fridge, and freezer have an ounce of space in them. That’s because she had to deal with starvation in post-war Germany, picking bugs out of the rice they sometimes subsisted on, and she fears it could happen all over again. I won’t go into my wife’s family history.

    The people who risk their lives to come to this country aren’t doing it for fun. They aren’t doing it because “the milk is free” whatever that means. They are doing it because they can’t afford to support their families in Mexico. They aren’t worried about buying a plasma TV, they are worried about feeding their children.

    They would give anything they had to be able to freely cross back over that border to visit their families. When we go to family get-togethers for my wife’s family in Mexico a lot of people can’t come and it’s painful.

    Maybe you should be better informed about this subject all the way around before posting anymore on it. Or maybe I should stop posting as this subject hits a little to close to home for me and cavalier, uninformed comments like yours bother me too much.

    Comment by chatterbox — Tuesday, April 11, 2006 @ 7:37 pm

  21. Sir your comments only show your ignorance. My grandmother came to this country legally from Germany with nothing in hand and went through the process to become a legal citizen. She heard bombs dropping all around her during WWII; she saw the death and destruction after the fall of Germany and lost three brothers. But with all of that she opened three grocery stores in Montgomery, AL with only hard work and dedication. My father’s father died when he was two and they lived on public assistance for three years, so don’t give me your sob story. Another question is what should I be better informed of? The fact you defend lawbreakers. If your family came through the correct channels they could go back to see your family members in Mexico. I think that your personal feelings are getting in the way of common sense. Bomb throwing gets you nowhere and makes you look less intelligent than you already are. By the way, the milk is free if you break the laws and go around those who have been standing in line to receive legal citizenship.

    Comment by c.v. — Wednesday, April 12, 2006 @ 9:01 am

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