Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Immigration and the American Elite

When immigrants were the bad guys
Is kicked around over at The American Catholic

Yep.  It's a tangled mess right now.  Was a time when Republicans seemed more willing to let illegals in and turn a blind eye.  That's where the jobs were that Republicans didn't want.  Liberals were all about restricting illegal immigration because illegals tended to tap the system America's poor most needed.  Plus it didn't compel the countries they were coming from to change their ways.  When Reagan let millions leap the fence, it wasn't just white Republicans who fussed.

All that changed over the last decade and a half.  I couldn't begin to tell you why.  Like the historical origin of most things, it's likely difficult to pinpoint.  I just know that by later in the Bush II administration, open doors and blank checks were increasingly a Democratic platform, with fighting to restrict and curb illegal immigration belonging to the Republicans.

This, of course, turned into a convenient meme whereby any restrictions on immigration at all suddenly became the result of racist Republicans in Red States hating on immigration all because immigrants are ethnic minorities, and the beautiful people in Blue States just loving on them some poor and needy.

It is much more complex than that, but once an issue becomes entrenched in bumper-sticker sloganeering, it becomes difficult to find a middle ground.  Terms such as immigrant and refugee become conflated, and people end up getting lost in shuffle.

It is true that some Conservatives are willing to turn off the spigots when it comes to immigration altogether, especially from some countries they perceive as threats.  They see that immigration, and the expectations for immigrants, has radically changed since the wave of immigration at the dawn of the 20th century. 

They are right about the changes that have occurred.  Somewhere along the line, it appears we stopped insisting that immigrants become Americans, and more or less figured they can come here for whatever reasons please them, and do no more than they care to do.  They can even keep their own cultures and languages as a priority over any identification with America.  It matters not.  Or at least that is how it appears.

Meanwhile, though they don't admit it, there is little to suggest that the Democrats, and many Christian leaders, want anything other than open borders.  Sure, they deny such charges.  But bring up almost any type of restriction or legislation to regulate the flow of immigration, and you're smacked down in a heartbeat.  Bring up concern for America's own 'least of these', and you're assured that nobody wants Americans to suffer ... and yet there is scant follow up with actually concerning ourselves with America's own 'least of these' where problems with immigration are concerned. 

And, as I pointed out here, this doesn't count those dreamers who have made a substantial living as illegal immigrants, going to Ivy League universities, getting six figure incomes in Silicon Valley, and living high end Wall Street life styles.  All while an increasing number of Americans can neither afford college nor even a new car for their families.  All of this is then mixed with the ugly fact that many who scream the loudest about immigration have scant personal contact with actual immigrants.

On the whole, immigration mainly means that flow of immigrants from south of the border, because that is where the lion's share of immigrants are coming from.  America is unique in that it shares a large, common border with another nation that is a constant source of unending immigrants wanting to come into our country.  And not all want to come in order to become good Americans. 

Some want to come to get jobs and send funds back to their families who have no other intention of coming here.  Others, of course, are those unmentionables who come on the back of the drug trade or some other nefarious design.  Because of the size of the border and the cultures sending this constant, never ending stream of immigrants, the states along the Southern border are most impacted. 

For instance, it's a fact that when compared to Americans as a whole, immigration seems to have no disproportionate impact on crime.  When the states along the Mexican border are examined, however, the impact of immigration and immigrants on crime in those localized regions changes dramatically. And that means something for the people living there; the people who everyone insists are important but nobody ever seems to focus on.

Which is a problem, and brings us back to Donald McClarey's post.  In the end, whether it's Christian leaders, Hollywood celebrities, or federal Politicians, much of the debate about immigration is being waged by people who seldom come within a hundred miles of actual immigrants.  If they do, it is from a comfortable distance.  They might talk to or shake hands with the immigrants, heck they might even let immigrants clean their toilets.  But they are safe and snug away from the worst problems associated with modern immigration. 

Most pro-immigrant warriors are comfortable income wise, and whatever jobs - high end or poverty level - immigrants take doesn't impact them.  If immigrants murder an American or wreck an American's car or take a poor American's job - what is it to these warriors for immigrants?  There are more than 300 million people in America.  Like terrorist attacks, the odds of immigrants causing something bad to happen to anyone I know and love is right up there at Powerball level odds.   Like so many things in our postmodern age, there's a tendency toward martyrdom by proxy.  These leaders proudly proclaim carte blanche for immigrants, no questions asked.  And if some other poor schmuck American suffers as a result?  Well, that's the sacrifice these bold leaders are prepared to make. 

It's like the old image of military and government leaders sitting in their palatial estates while the foot soldiers hit the beaches. Only it has transferred now to domestic warfare between our competing ideologies.  Our elites sit back, shaking hands at Harvard and dining with celebrities while bemoaning the plight of people they're seldom near, and insisting the problems for citizens are important, but never feeling compelled to allow those problems to be part of the equation.

On the whole, I don't comment on immigration because it doesn't directly impact me, and I haven't opened my home to any immigrants (they don't need more problems than they already have).   As George Bush works on the 'How I helped elect Trump' tour, however, it just exemplifies the rank elitism that has come to dominate this debate that is ostensibly all about the least of these.  It might say it's about the least of these, but it's waged between those with the most of everything, picking and choosing which of the least of these matters, and which don't.

For me, it seems the best - and perhaps only correct - way to approach the issue is to make sure our policies and deeds speak to the 'least of these', wherever they are born and whatever they look like.  We make sure people here and coming from there know we have their backs.  We don't pit one group against the other, or tacitly ignore the concerns of a group simply because of nationality and skin color.   Modifying our immigration policy, especially if it makes it easier for people to become citizens (in our nation that is already pretty good compared to most countries), wouldn't hurt.  And if we want to go crazy, actually inviting immigrants into our homes before we point fingers at others might be a token of good faith.

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