The immigration bill recently failed to pass through the Senate last week. The issue is complicated and depending on the political stripe of the person asked – different reasons are given for not supporting the bill – and some of them are understandably very legitimate.
The Bill, right from the time that it was promulgated, was opposed by both the left and the right. There were exceptions of course ( most notably, John McCain), but both extremes of the political landscape had reservations on the provisions captured there-in. Its long and complicated to describe every point of contention – but at a very high level, the left was concerned about the point system proposed as the basis of the path to legalization – the contention being that it took away the time honored American tradition of family relationship based immigration to a more overt capitalistic skills based immigration system ignoring real familial issues of illegals already in the country.
To the conservative right, anything that does not amount to trucking of 12 million people back to Mexico amounts to an “Amnesty” – and to the strongest proponents of this school of thought, it amounts to awarding breaking the law.
To look at it dispassionately, both sides have some merits to their arguments. On the Left, it is the the sudden turn-around of American principles of welcoming immigrants – just around the time when the Irish and Italian immigration waves have died down and the “brown skinned” immigration of the Mexicans in on the rise, smacks of racial prejudice, to say the least.
On the Right, the argument that those who have broken the law are being awarded with a process to citizenship has merit as well. After all, how about all those people (including those who are legal “non-resident aliens” in the United States patiently awaiting their chances for Green Cards/Citizenship or whatever they desire. And I entirely agree with their iview that the border of the country needs to be secure.
And the pragmatic approach of taking a points based system makes sense because the fact remains that Americans, in numbers large enough, do not want to do the work that the Mexican Immigrants do. And Americans are used to low commodity pricing, fueled to a large extent, by illegal immigrants working with dirt cheap wages.
Where both are wrong is this – when you fight over technicalities of the Immigration Bill – both the Left and the Right convey the impression to the fastest growing minority in the United States that they really don’t care about them. And while there are 12 million illegal immigrants, there are millions of legal Hispanics as well. And to foster a sense of discontent in such a large percentage of your population cannot be good for the security and internal societal cohesion of the United States.
Let’s face it. Noone can ship 12 millions immigrants back to Mexico, Lou Dobbs’ notwithstanding. More importantly, in an aging demographic, the US cannot afford to lose that large a chunk of its labour force – a labour force that is willing to do the kind of work that the other extended society chooses not to.
But what the failure of the Immigration Bill to pass does is – that it gives the overt notion that the politicians in the beltway don’t really care about the Hispanic population. Noone cares about the details – even me, who keeps abreast of a large portion of the intellectual debate on this topic, don’t really get all the nuances.
And this perception of effectively metaphorically disenfranchising so many cannot be a good thing.
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